Philip Hammond was reported to have made the comment by The Sun newspaper [Image: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters].


Philip Hammond must have thought his job was secure after the general election result; how wrong he was.

With Theresa May’s minority Conservative government hanging precariously over a metaphorical cliff, it seems he thought he could get away with a jibe – not at women, but at the prime minister.

So we are told he made a comment during a Cabinet discussion on transport, that driving trains is now so easy that “even a woman” can do it.

How very silly.

All it took was a leak to the right newspaper, and now Mr Hammond is left hanging on by his fingernails.

And the worst of it is, it doesn’t even matter if he said the words or not.

In fact, some sources are claiming he didn’t – but who cares? The story is out, his name is attached, and Theresa May feels a little more secure.

But of course, that is another illusion.

Ask yourself: What do average British citizens see in this episode?

We see a weak, wobbly – and amateurish – administration whose members squabble among themselves.

Are they ministerial? No.

Are they statespersonlike? No.

Are they fit to run a country?

No.

Philip Hammond appears to have irked the prime minister by making a sexist remark in cabinet, exposing the tensions at the highest level of government.

Reports suggest that in a discussion about transport, the chancellor quipped that driving trains had now been made so easy that “even a woman” could do it.

A report in the Sun newspaper, which was not disputed by senior Conservative sources, said Hammond had made the remark, only to be rebuked by Theresa May.

One other minister present said the claim the pair had fallen out over the joke was “heavily exaggerated”, but the emergence of the embarrassing anecdote underlines the touchy relations in Downing Street.

An ally of the chancellor said the anecdote had been “uttered by another minister unfairly characterising Hammond’s position”, and that he had been drawing attention to the disproportionately low number of women in jobs such as train driving. Another cabinet colleague said they remembered the exchange as “good natured”.

(Source: Philip Hammond in row over ‘even a woman can drive a train’ jibe)


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