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Philip Hammond defends claims he called public-sector workers 'overpaid'

17 July 2017

Number 10's official spokesman said there would not be a "formal investigation" into the leaks from the Cabinet meeting, but Mrs May would be "reminding" ministers of their "responsibilities".

The row is likely to - and is no doubt meant to - damage Mr Hammond's chances of becoming Prime Minister if Theresa May stands down later this year.

"It appears that Cabinet members haven't yet finished negotiating with each other, never mind the European Union", he said. The trade secretary said in a Bloomberg TV interview Thursday he would be "very happy" with a transition period of just "a few months".

Hammond's comments underscore the continued splits over Brexit and other policies in May's government, which has been weakened since it lost its majority in June's general election.

Mr Hammond did not give such an explicit denial to the claim in the Sunday Times that he had branded public sector workers "overpaid".

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The Government is now under pressure to increase public sector pay and lift the current 1% cap.

"Public sector workers are overpaid when you take into account pensions", he is reported to have said, before saying train drivers were "ludicrously overpaid".

Damian Green, the first secretary of state, sought to dismiss the row as tittle-tattle, telling Radio 5 Live's Pienaar's Politics it was "characteristic July froth", but he then told colleagues: "Now is absolutely not the time for this activity".

His comments come the day before the UK Brexit minister David Davis is due to engage in the second round of Brexit negotiations taking place in Brussels.

"I don't see these great divisions that are suggested to me in the Sunday newspapers and I have to say I think all of this is somewhat overplayed", he added.

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A Cabinet minister failed today to paper over glaring Cabinet rifts on Brexit and public sector pay. "Two-thirds believe cuts to public services have gone too far and three quarters want to see a pay rise for public sector workers this year".

Speaking on the BBC's Sunday Politics show, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said any transitional period should be "very time-limited", and should allow the United Kingdom to strike new trade deals - something it is unable to do as part of the EU's customs union.

But Trade secretary Liam Fox refused to be drawn on Hammond's view on it being in the years, shortly after. He said he was not aware of any plans for a formal inquiry into the leaks.

Iain Duncan Smith, the former party leader, also warned his party to desist from feuding.

However, Philip Hammond is deliberately working to "frustrate" Brexit and treating pro-Leave ministers like "pirates who have taken him prisoner", a Cabinet minister has told The Telegraph, in an extraordinary attack on one of the most senior members of the Government.

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Philip Hammond defends claims he called public-sector workers 'overpaid'