Dry-as-dust Chancellor Philip Hammond is almost certainly unwittingly creating consternation in the Parliamentary Conservative Party – including some of his Cabinet colleagues – by appearing to dilute plans for Britain’s exit from the EU.
Indeed, some Tories have become so incensed by Hammond’s views that they have publicly called on the prime minister to sack him before things get any worse.
What these Tories fail to recognise is that, if Hammond is the threat they think he is, he could become a far greater danger man on the back-benches than he is within Cabinet.
As the old adage has it, he would be less of a problem spitting out, than outside it and spitting in.
Let it not be forgotten that Hammond has plenty of Tory supporters, including former leader Lord (William) Hague who has robustly and publicly backed him.
But his critics will not back off.
They say Hammond should stick to his own brief and not meddle in Brexit policy, which should be the province of Brexit Secretary David Davis and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.
The prime minister is unlikely to take the drastic step of firing Hammond, but she will return from holiday highly displeased at the outbreak of discord in the high echelons of government.
• The government is responding, although not with any great enthusiasm, to the threat of massive increases in energy prices later this year.
British Gas had announced that thanks to so-called green taxes, electricity charges would be rising by more than 12% for 3 million consumers.
During the election, Theresa May pledged to cap price rises for 7 million households. Now a review is to be conducted which, we are assured, will fulfil this pledge.
But to quote the words of former prime minister Herbert Asquith about a century ago, we shall have to “wait and see”.
• Sir Vince Cable, the new leader of the Liberal Democrat party, once memorably likened Gordon Brown to Mr Bean. I am now going to label Sir Vince ‘Mr Grouch’. We do not expect our party political leaders to resemble all-singing, all-dancing cabaret artistes, but Sir Vince does not seem to possess a single chuckle muscle (with apologies to Sir Ken Dodd) in his entire make-up.
He is one of the diehard band of Remainers who obtusely still will not accept losing the EU referendum in June last year.
He should look to the example of Theresa May, who wanted to remain part of the EU, but who now quite properly embraces the view of the winning majority at that referendum.
Sir Vince has now attacked the elderly who voted in large numbers to leave the EU, knowing they had “no jobs to lose”, of “shafting the young” who had everything to lose. He also warned of a troubling undercurrent of violence in the language being used.
For a start, I doubt whether many, or indeed any, of the old people who voted at the referendum had any thought in their heads of “shafting the young”. But that aside, it is a sure-fire way of losing votes for a party leader to lay into the so-called “grey vote”.
Perhaps a going over with the Ken Dodd tickling stick might just bring a smile to Sir Vince’s glum countenance. So, snap out of it, Mr Grouch!
• President Trump claims his alleged description of the White House as “a dump” is fake news and that he never said it.
But I would need a lot of convincing about that.
He has already described Washington as “a swamp” and plainly hates journalists. He appears to have coined the term “fake news” as an all-too-easy way of denying things he may have said and now regrets.
Trump says he is against Scottish independence – which is fine – but he seems to take this view simply because it may put in doubt the future of the golf Open.
Don’t forget he has golfing interests in Aberdeenshire.
Meanwhile Trump visualises a great new trade deal between the UK and the US. Believe it when you see it is my advice.
• Commons Speaker John Bercow has registered receiving two tickets for the Royal Box at Wimbledon worth more than £8,500. He has reportedly so far racked up more than £50,000 in VIP freebies since becoming Speaker in 2009.
Nice work if you can get it.