In Brief

Michael Gove accused of ‘auditioning’ to be chancellor

Environment Secretary is reportedly ‘straying beyond his brief’ as pressure builds on Philip Hammond

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has faced a “backlash from senior Tories” over accusations he has been using cabinet meetings to “audition” to be the next chancellor, The Times reports.

According to fellow cabinet members, the former education secratary has been “straying beyond his brief” in meetings as speculation grows that Chancellor Philip Hammond may lose his job.

The Daily Mail says Hammond's popularity has “plummeted” in recent months and he is seen as “too negative about Brexit and lacks the grand vision needed for the post”.

In a cabinet meeting two weeks ago, Gove reportedly made a lengthy contribution on the economy, including making reference to the “obscure” Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, which governs companies who provide services relating to investments, bonds and shares.

At the most recent meeting on Tuesday, he is alleged to have used “lots of long, economicky words”, according to two ministers who spoke to The Times.

“He was the only one auditioning” one said. “Others just contributed to a discussion on the industrial strategy without giving the impression of this being the culmination of lengthy rehearsals.”

The other added: “Lots of people think Hammond is a goner, but Gove shouldn’t be so blatant about it.”

Hammond's survival may hinge on the success of the autumn Budget, which he will deliver on Wednesday. 

In March, Hammond angered many within his own party when he announced an increase on national insurance for self-employed workers. He was forced to make a U-turn and cancel the policy after a revolt from the backbenches, but the The Daily Telegraph called the Budget “disastrous” and said the Chancellor’s vision had “badly backfired”.

The Times says a repeat performance would almost certainly spell the end for Hammond, but he may be ousted “regardless of what he announces”.

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