Philip Hammond. Photo: Getty
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Why is gaffe-prone Philip Hammond still in his job?

Thanks to Conservative Remainers, the Chancellor’s position is safer than it really should be.

It's not just Tory Brexiteers who see everything through a Remain/Leave lens: increasingly, their pro-Remain Conservative counterparts do too. The existence of any kind of  "save Philip Hammond" lobby is testament to that.

He's embroiled in three rows, each of which attest to his own political tone-deafness. He appeared to blame the increasing participation of people with disabilities in the workplace for the United Kingdom's low productivity. (Among other things, while the employment gap for people with and without disabilities has decreased in recent years, it simply hasn't been enough to explain the fall in productivity.)

He conceded that the United Kingdom will of course settle its outstanding liabilities (the so-called "divorce bill") regardless of what happens with the final EU-UK deal. This argument has a lot going for it as far as the facts go, but the government either ought to have made it from the beginning or not at all. Now they are trapped between the false Remainer meme that the bill is "paying for Brexit" (no, we would have paid this money anyway as an EU member) and the false Brexiteer one that it is in any way going to determine the quality of the EU trade deal (no, again, we would have paid this money anyway) and would be wise to simply shut up about it.

And he's caught in an increasingly public row about defence spending with Gavin Williamson, who uses his first big interview since getting the post to tell the Daily Mail that British people who leave to fight for the self-described Islamic State should be killed, and that the armed forces should be fully funded today. (I suppose it was unlikely to be the other way round.)

The blunt truth is that these misfortunes happen to Hammond because he is not very good at politics. But just as his detractors see his flaws through the axis of the Brexit question, so too can he rely on the support of enough Conservative Remainers to make his position safer than it really should be.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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Watch: Brexit minister in disastrous car-crash interview over Corbyn smear

Steve Baker was torn apart over an “outrageous smear” of Jeremy Corbyn.

Oh dear. It looks like the Tories’ obsession with a Czechoslovakian spy story is coming back to bite them.

After days of hysterical coverage in the right-wing press, the story of a Czechoslovakian agent, posing as a diplomat, meeting Jeremy Corbyn in the Eighties (and – by the way – getting no information, and being discredited by Czech officials) has run and run, and the Conservative ministers have got involved.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson accused Corbyn of “betraying” Britain, and Security Minister Ben Wallace compared the Labour leader to notorious Cold War double agent Kim Philby on Twitter. Ben Bradley, the Tory MP and vice-chair for youth, had to remove his tweet claiming Corbyn “sold British secrets to Communist spies” after Labour threatened legal action.

So spare a thought for Steve Baker, who not only has to defend the government’s incompetence as Brexit Minister, but was interrogated about his colleagues’ claims on the Daily Politics today, by a ferocious Andrew Neil:

Asking repeatedly if Corbyn has “betrayed his country” and if so, how, Neil had Baker squirming as he failed to defend his government colleagues and attempted to back up his claim that Corbyn is a “grave danger to his country”.

Czech mate.

I'm a mole, innit.