DEBATE: Should Philip Hammond remain chancellor of the exchequer?

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Philip Hammond is a realist rather than a fantasist, a pragmatist rather than a zealot (Source: Getty)

Should Philip Hammond remain chancellor of the exchequer?

James Baker, who sits on the board of the Tory Reform Group, says YES.

The chancellor’s vision of Britain will resonate with voters across the UK, from small business owners to first-time buyers, many of whom will now be better off as a result of his measures.

The foundations have been laid for a forward-looking Britain and it is only right that its architect, Philip Hammond, should stay to see it through. Hammond is the right chancellor for the current economic climate. At a time when debt remains high and growth forecasts are below two per cent, it is vital that fiscal common sense and budgeting prevail.

Indeed, it is impressive that, given the economic challenges, Hammond was able to provide so many positive outcomes from the Budget.

He has also shown a willingness to listen and to adapt – the changes to Universal Credit are testament to his ability to appreciate the concerns raised by backbench MPs and to tailor the current system.

With his rational, measured and thoughtful approach, the chancellor is providing the steady hand that Britain needs at this uncertain time – and he isn’t too bad at jokes either!

Read more: Market reaction to the Budget: Meh

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, says NO.

“And with one bound he was free!”

Or perhaps not. Even if this year’s Budget doesn’t end up unravelling as swiftly as some of its recent predecessors – and even if actually ends up, unlike them, doing something measurably positive in the long term – it’s probably not going to save the chancellor’s bacon.

And nor should it. Philip Hammond is a realist rather than a fantasist, a pragmatist rather than a zealot, a Remainer rather than a Leaver – in other words, everything that many of his cabinet colleagues are not. As such, he has no place in a government obsessed with quitting the EU whatever the economic cost.

Yes, by staying in post, the chancellor can claim to be limiting the damage that might be done by a true-believer. But, in so doing, he’s allowing Johnson, Gove et al. to carry on having their cake and eating it.

It’s about time one of them actually assumed responsibility for Britain’s brittle Brexit economy. I for one can’t wait to see what happens.

Read more: Small businesses rejoice as VAT threshold reduction appears to be shelved

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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