Who runs the Treasury?
Alistair Darling rejected a third request for an immediate meeting with estate agents as tension grew over suggestions to lift stamp duty.
Whitehall sources told The Times yesterday that there was increasing irritation within the Treasury over the fallout of the stamp duty proposal, which Mr Darling and department aides have been left to field.
But in a sign of a growing rift between Mr Darling and No 10 over the issue, Treasury aides said that the Chancellor was adamant that he was not going to be pushed into taking any action on stamp duty.
“At the end of the day, the Treasury did not brief this story so we did not cause this problem,” one aide said. Whitehall sources suspect that Downing Street, desperate to get out some good news to give a boost to Gordon Brown's battered reputation, floated the story last week. A spokesman for Downing Street insisted last night that that was not the case.
It has been alleged that Number 10 aides were responsible for the reports although Downing Street insists this is not the case as those charged with briefing the press are on holiday.
Ministers have faced accusations that the uncertainty over whether stamp duty will be suspended is likely to further damage the property market as buyers pull out of purchases until an announcement is made.
The Treasury are also baffled by reports that Mr Brown is preparing to announce an economic strategy next month as the centrepiece of his fight-back plans. Treasury aides insist that any new economic or tax plans will be set out in the pre-budget report by the Chancellor in the autumn as is usual.
Darling's best before date is rapidly approaching, and Gordon's trusted circle puckers up even smaller.