Philip Hammond attacks Tory general election campaign

Philip Hammond

Chancellor Philip Hammond has criticised the way the Conservatives fought the general election campaign, saying there should have been more focus on the economy.

Mr Hammond said he was unhappy with the low-key role he was given and said the Tories should have put more effort into “dismantling” Labour’s plans.

He also said the government “heard a message” in the election that people were “weary” of spending cuts.

“We are not deaf,” he told the BBC.

Despite being one of the most senior members of Theresa May’s government, Mr Hammond did not play a leading role in the campaign before the general election, and it was reported he faced being replaced.

“It’s true that my role was not the one I would have liked it to be,” he said on BBC One’s Andrew Marr show.

‘More flexibility’

He did not comment on his conversations with Mrs May after the election, in which the Conservatives lost their Commons majority.

Mr Hammond said the Tories should have focused more on their record of running Britain’s finances.

“The end result is that in my judgement we did not talk about the economy as much we should have done.”

There have been calls for a change in economic strategy since the election, which Labour fought on an anti-austerity platform.

The Tories are now relying on the Democratic Unionist Party, which is committed to lobbying for extra cash for public services in Northern Ireland, for support.

The chancellor said he had already “created more flexibility” by loosening George Osborne’s deficit-reduction target.

He said he understood people were tired of the “long slog” of spending cuts, but added: “We have to live within our means and more borrowing… is not the solution.”

“We have never said we won’t raise some taxes,” he said, but added that overall the government wanted to keep them low.

The government’s plan remained to clear the deficit by the middle of the next Parliament “in a way that’s sensitive to the needs of the economy”, he added.

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