Conservative rebel MPs are trying to get Philip Hammond sacked because of concerns he wants to frustrate Brexit, a former Tory minister has claimed.
The Chancellor is under intense pressure over his botched Budget, which controversially recommended a rise in National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed in breach of a Tory manifesto commitment.
The former Tory minister, who backed Remain in the referendum, said: “Part of the strategy is for the hard Brexiteers [to unite] ... [people like] IDS.
“It is a 'get Philip Hammond who is going to f--- Brexit', as opposed to a genuine outrage.
“They are hunting as a pack – they have decided it is an issue that they can use to weaken Philip or do him over."
An estimated 30 Conservative MPs have already said privately they will oppose the measure, which is enough to sink it when it is debated as a Government Bill in the autumn.
One of the rebels said: "It is certainly on life support if it is not dead yet."
That is despite Theresa May hitting the pause button on the plans, delaying any vote until the autumn to allow time for a rethink.
Last autumn, Mr Hammond reportedly tried to keep Britain in the customs union but eventually had to bow to Number 10’s insistence that inward migration has to be controlled instead.
Iain Duncan Smith, a former secretary of state for work and pensions, said the claims were "complete rubbish".
He said: "They must be friends of him or something. I read somewhere he was trying to put it out. It is total nonsense."
Another rebel MP who voted Remain told The Telegraph: "This is absolutely nothing to do with Brexit - it is completely unrelated to it.
"I was not happy with the deficit reduction target. I just don't think he is that good, Philip Hammond.
"I just don't think he is a Tory. I got into politics to reduce debt and the deficit."
Asked if Mr Duncan Smith trusted Mr Hammond to pursue a hard Brexit, he replied: "He has got to get on with it. I trust the Prime Minister."
A friend of Mr Duncan Smith added: "Look at the names: Tom Tugendhat, Anna Soubry, Bob Neil, Guto Bebb - all remainers. Hardly a leave conspiracy."
The friend added that it was "not helpful of the Chancellor's people to try and turn this into a Leave v Remain issue - it is silly and risks digging his hole deeper".