Philip Hammond told the Today programme on Tuesday that he was ‘agonising’ over whether he should advocate a Conservative vote at the coming election. ‘It really doesn’t matter how many times my party kicks me, abuses me, reviles me,’ he went on, sounding like Jesus, ‘they’re not going to stop me feeling like a Conservative.’ Obviously Mr Hammond has a right to ‘feel like a Conservative’, but is that the relevant point?
He reached the pinnacle of his career by becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer just after the 2016 referendum vote for Leave. From his first day in office, he saw it as his task to frustrate that vote, trying, chiefly by covert means, to keep Britain in the Customs Union. In 2017, he fought the general election on a manifesto which declared that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK’; but was all the while working tirelessly for a bad deal. He used the second most important job in government to make government impossible. Perhaps he should go away and feel like a Conservative somewhere else.
This article is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, available in this week’s magazine.