Toby Young apologises to Phillip Hammond for antisemitism accusation
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Toby Young apologises to Phillip Hammond for antisemitism accusation

Young retracted his accusation after the former Chancellor threatened to sue for defamation

Chancellor Phillip Hammond
Chancellor Phillip Hammond

Writer Toby Young has apologised to Phillip Hammond after he labelled as antisemitic the former Chancellor’s suggestion Boris Johnson is backed by “speculators who have bet billions on a hard Brexit.”

Young retracted his accusation after the two exchanged messages publicly on Twitter last Sunday, with Hammond threatening to sue for defamation.

In an opinion piece in The Times last week making no mention of religion or ethnicity, Hammond echoed comments by the PM’ sister Rachel on Radio 4’s World At One show.

“But as his sister has reminded us, he is backed by speculators who have bet billions on a hard Brexit — and there is only one outcome that works for them: a crash-out no-deal Brexit that sends the currency tumbling and inflation soaring,” he wrote.

On Sunday, Young tweeted a screenshot of the piece and accused Hammond of disseminating a “disgusting antisemitic controversy” that “Boris is being manipulated by a secret cabal of city financiers who stand to profit from economic ruin,” prompting the MP for Runnymede and Weybridge to threaten to sue.

But the piece made no reference to “financiers,” as Hammond pointed out in a tweet to Young describing his allegation of antisemitism as “self-evidently absurd” and “defamatory”, and stating that he would be taking legal advice. 

Young deleted his tweet shortly before midnight and apologised to Hammond, adding: “The suggestion that ‘speculators’ are controlling the govt [sic] could be construed as an antisemitic trope if ‘speculators’ is being used as a euphemism for Jewish financiers, as it sometimes is. But you evidently didn’t mean that and I’ve deleted the tweet.”

Hammond accepted the apology, tweeting: “Apology accepted, though I did not use the word ‘financiers’. Always happy to discuss our differences – so long as we keep it civilised.”

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