IT is ironic that Chancellor Philip Hammond praised the Queen’s wisdom after Her Majesty spoke about the importance of “common ground” and “never losing sight of the bigger picture” – and then promptly sparked a wave of unhelpful speculation about his own future if Britain ends up with a no-deal Brexit.
This intervention, hours after Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd did likewise, adds to the pressure facing Theresa May two months and three days before Britain is due to leave the EU.
Having lost a number of senior Brexiteers, the Prime Minister faces a pincer movement from leading Remainers as she prepares for a series of votes in Parliament next Tuesday that might force the Government to pass legislation forbidding the UK from leaving the EU without a deal and, in doing so, risk a backlash from Eurosceptics.
Yet, while the Queen was speaking to Sandringham’s WI in general terms, it was, effectively, her second intervention in a month after using her Christmas message to talk about ‘respect’ and the need for a ‘greater understanding’ of those who do hold differing views. As such, Mr Hammond – and others – should refresh their memories of this speech – another raft of Brexit resignations will only make it harder for the country to find common cause.