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UK's May keeps Hammond as finance minister, others stay in top jobs
June 9, 2017 / 5:26 PM / 3 months ago

UK's May keeps Hammond as finance minister, others stay in top jobs

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond arrives at Prime Minister Theresa May's election manifesto launch in Halifax, May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May kept finance minister Philip Hammond and other key members of her cabinet in their jobs on Friday, a day after she was weakened by failing to win a parliamentary majority in an election.

Before the election there had been widespread speculation in the British media that May would replace Hammond if she won a large majority.

As well as Hammond, foreign minister Boris Johnson, interior minister Amber Rudd, defence secretary Michael Fallon and Brexit minister David Davis will also remain in their posts.

“No further appointments will be made this evening,” May’s office said.

Hammond’s reappointment makes it less likely that the government will significantly relax its grip on public spending after the left-wing Labour Party secured a better-than-expected election result with a plan to invest more in public services.

Hammond, 61, was named chancellor of the exchequer by May shortly after she took over as prime minister nearly a year ago, in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

British media have reported strains between their teams since then, and their relationship has been more distant than the one between former prime minister David Cameron and his finance minister George Osborne.

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Secretary Michael Fallon, and Secretary of State for Brexit Liam Fox attend an election campaign rally in Solihull, June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Ben Stansall/Pool/Files

Hammond took the blame for a policy U-turn in March when he quickly dropped a plan to raise social security tax for self-employed workers after Conservative lawmakers protested that it broke promises made by the party before an election in 2015.

May did not repeat those promises ahead of this year’s campaign.

Hammond also annoyed many Conservatives who want a clean break with the EU by repeatedly stressing the need for a Brexit deal that allows companies to keep on hiring the migrant workers they need.

In terms of fiscal policy, Hammond has slowed the push to turn Britain’s budget deficit into a surplus, but he is wary about significantly relaxing the government’s grip on spending or cutting taxes.

Media reports before the election mentioned interior minister Rudd and defence minister Fallon as potential replacements of Hammond.

“Markets would prefer to have ‘Spreadsheet Phil’ if either of those were the alternative,” said Marc Ostwald, a strategist at ADM Investor Services.

Before taking over at the finance ministry, Hammond served as foreign minister and defence minister.

Reporting by William Schomberg and David Milliken; Editing by Toby Davis

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