AN exasperated Philip Hammond has lashed out at cabinet rivals, who have briefed against him, accusing them of trying to undermine his attempts to secure a Brexit deal that will protect jobs and the economy.

He urged them to stop the cabinet leaks and "focus on the job in hand".

During the past few days the Chancellor has been hit by a series of press reports claiming he told the cabinet that public sector workers were "overpaid" and that driving a train was now so easy that "even" a woman could do it.

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Labour’s John McDonnell said Tory ministers were now “fighting like rats in a sack”.

Sarah Newton, the Home Office minister, brushed aside what she called “tittle-tattle” and “hearsay” but noted: “I don’t think anyone should be leaking cabinet meetings; that’s thoroughly unprofessional”.

She then told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme that there was a “very united team of ministers…absolutely focused on what our constituents want us to be focused on”.

Meanwhile, Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, urged colleagues to “for once, shut up for God’s sake, and let everyone else get on with the business of governing”.

He insisted: “There’s not going to be a leadership election; I can absolutely promise you that because there’s no mood in the Conservative Party in parliament for a leadership election.

“There is an unusual thing happening at the moment; it’s called Brexit. It has a timetable to it and you can’t afford for that timetable to be broken into by a Conservative leadership election, so we have to get through that first and foremost.”

Appearing on BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show, Mr Hammond blamed cabinet leaks on colleagues opposed to his agenda for an extended transitional period after Britain formally left the EU in 2019 so that business was not faced with a "cliff-edge" break.

"If you want my opinion, some of the noise is generated by people who are not happy with the agenda which I, over the last few weeks, have tried to advance of ensuring that we achieve a Brexit which is focused on protecting our economy, protecting our jobs, and making sure that we have continued rising living standards in the future," he said.

The Chancellor said he did not know who had been briefing against him although the Chancellor is widely believed to be at odds with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

"They shouldn't have done it frankly because Cabinet meetings are supposed to be a private space in which we have a serious discussion," he complained.

"On many fronts it would be helpful if my colleagues - all of us - focused on the job in hand. This Government is facing a ticking clock over the Brexit negotiations."

Asked if there was now a fight under way within the Cabinet to succeed Theresa May as Conservative leader, he said: "I certainly hope not. If there is I am no part of it."

Mr Hammond refused to be drawn on a report by the Sunday Times that he said public sector workers were "overpaid" at the weekly meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday, although a Treasury source insisted that he did not use the word.

He acknowledged, however, he had made the point during the discussion that public sector workers enjoyed a 10 per cent pension "premium" over their private sector counterparts.

"Public sector pay raced ahead of private sector pay after the crash in 2008-09. Taking public sector pay before pensions contributions - that gap has now closed," he said.

"But when you take into account the very generous contributions public sector employers have to pay in for their workers' pensions - their very generous pensions - they are still about 10 per cent ahead."

His comments came at a sensitive time for the Government which is under pressure to end the one per cent pay cap for public sector workers after seven years of austerity.

The Chancellor, who is widely thought to have led the opposition in Government to any relaxation, did hint that it was an issue they were prepared to look at.

"We do keep this under constant review and I think the fact that is apparently now well known the Cabinet has been discussing this issue sends a clear signal that we do understand the concern both of public sector workers and of the wider public," he said.