General election 2017: May and Hammond hold joint press conference – politics live

17 May

Relations between the chancellor and Theresa May’s top team have deteriorated following a series of clashes over policy and presentation.

Philip Hammond infuriated senior Downing Street aides by effectively committing the prime minister to ditching a promise not to raise VAT, tax or national insurance days after she called the election and before the policy had been settled, The Times has learnt …

Anger flared again after the chancellor’s briefing to journalists in Washington last month, three days after Mrs May announced the snap election. Mr Hammond appeared unilaterally to set a key economic policy by criticising David Cameron’s pledge not to raise the main rates of tax in a briefing for economics correspondents.

“It’s self-evidently clear that the commitments that were made in the 2015 manifesto did, and do today, constrain the ability of the government to manage the economy flexibly,” he said in what was taken as a bald hint that the so-called tax lock pledge would not be repeated.

The briefing incensed No 10, where it was suspected that Mr Hammond was seeking to tie Mr Timothy’s hands as he prepared the manifesto. “There was a lot of swearing and angry phone calls,” one source said.

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