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DUP hits back at claims it urged PM to 'rein in divisive' Chancellor

By Suzanne Breen

The DUP has denied telling the Prime Minister that she must "rein in" Chancellor Philip Hammond over his "divisive" approach to Brexit.

The Telegraph quoted senior DUP parliamentary sources as warning Theresa May that if the Chancellor didn't change his behaviour, his position would become "untenable".

A DUP spokesman said: "We don't recognise this anonymous and inaccurate briefing as coming from any DUP parliamentary source."

Some Cabinet members want the Chancellor sacked and replaced by a hardline Eurosceptic like Michael Gove. Arlene Foster's party hold the balance of power at Westminster and is supporting Mrs May's government in a confidence and supply agreement.

The senior DUP source was quoted in Saturday's Telegraph as expressing serious concern about Mr Hammond's behaviour.

"It is evident to us that he is winding people up and causing unnecessary division within the Conservative Party at a crucial time in the Brexit negotiations, and his behaviour is very unsettling," he said. "One has to wonder what his motivation is. He appears to be at least highly sceptical about Brexit and one could conclude from his current position and his behaviour that he is trying to frustrate the negotiating process and to undermine the Prime Minister."

The source warned that his party was monitoring the situation.

"The DUP will continue to keep a close watch on the situation but we think that Mrs May needs to do something to rein her Chancellor in and to make it clear to him that this kind of behaviour has to stop.

"It is not for us to dictate to the Prime Minister how she should manage her cabinet but as informed observers with a vested interest in making Brexit work, we are deeply concerned. If this behaviour continues the Chancellor's position becomes untenable."

The DUP insider added: "We simply cannot allow personal agendas to get in the way of the needs of our nation."

Mr Hammond has been criticised for appearing to be unwilling to spend cash on preparing for a no-deal outcome in the government's Brexit talks with the EU. Former Tory Chancellor Nigel Lawson denounced Mr Hammond to the BBC's Daily Politics programme. Asked whether he should remain as Chancellor, Lord Lawson said: "I fear not. I fear that he is unhelpful. He may not intend it but in practice what he is doing is very close to sabotage."

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