IS “spreadsheet Phil” Hammond the most bumbling, blundering Chancellor of the Exchequer in living memory, whose political antennae, if indeed he ever had any, have simply withered out of existence?

Or is he, in fact, much smarter than most people have given him credit for, and just pretending to be gormless? My feeling is that Hammond is indeed a lot smarter, acute and well-meaning than many people have suggested.

Sometimes, you cannot help but get the impression that Hammond, who has been accused of near-sabotage over Brexit, is taunting the Prime Minister to take drastic action over his post. A rampant Hammond on the Tory backbenches could be real trouble for Theresa May.

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Is he really so innocent that he thought scoffing lobster in an upmarket Chelsea restaurant with his predecessor George Osborne would pass unnoticed?

He must have known Osborne’s comments about the Prime Minister have been little short of vicious, describing her as a “dead woman walking” and saying he would like to see her chopped up in packets and put in the freezer.

And then, in contrast to what the Prime Minister has been saying, Hammond described the EU as “the enemy” only to say a short time later he regretted his choice of words. All that sounds a bit flip-flop and careless for a man who holds the taxpayers’ purse strings.

Some top Tory politicians, including Lord Lawson, another former Chancellor, came close to describing Hammond as a Brexit saboteur. So the Prime Minister faces a dilemma. Dumping your Chancellor is no minor matter, but how long can she tolerate this continued behaviour from a Chancellor who does not bother even to be subtle in his machinations?

Normally, Hammond’s speeches throw the Commons into a kind of corporate torpor.

But he has certainly shaken people awake in the last few weeks.

Whatever happens, I think we can safely promise Theresa May a bumpy, even tumultuous, Parliamentary ride between now and Christmas.

IS there any prospect of turning that insufferable bore Nick Clegg into a Trappist monk? He continues relentlessly to whinge about the Remainers’ defeat in the referendum last year. He has the classic bad loser’s “we was robbed” attitude to the way the nation voted for Brexit.

Clegg, a former Liberal Democrat leader and ex-deputy Prime Minister, has been ejected from Parliament by voters in Sheffield, Hallam and the Remainers’ case was roundly rejected at the referendum.

If the Remainers believe they should have won, they should have conducted a better and far more convincing campaign. But for the likes of Nick Clegg, it is never too late to whinge. Not only has he been calling for a second referendum (bad enough), but urging that voters below a certain age should get two votes each (appalling).

His latest book, How To Stop Brexit (And Make Britain Great Again) has been described as reading “like a bad losers’ handbook”.

The trouble, I fear, is that all appeals to him to kindly shut up, will fall on deaf ears.