Fears Rishi Sunak ‘could quit like Sajid Javid’ if PM sacks close adviser blamed for damaging briefing as Chancellor’s allies ‘hit out at maelstrom of chaos’ in No10
- Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to be ‘frustrated’ with Boris Johnson over ‘chaos’
- Allies said he believes the prime minister should show greater professionalism
- Source said Mr Sunak was concerned because he keeps being ‘hit’ but the chaos
- After PMs chaotic Peppa Pig speech, bungled rail announcement, MPs’ rebellion
Fears were raised today that Rishi Sunak could be forced to walk out of government amid claims he is frustrated at the ‘maelstrom of chaos’ in No10.
Allies warned there could be a ‘repeat of the Sajid situation’ if the Chancellor’s close aide Liam Booth-Smith is axed after being blamed by some for vicious briefing.
Mr Sunak’s predecessor Sajid Javid quit after he was ordered to get rid of his advisers when Dominic Cummings was in Downing Street.
The Treasury has denied any involvement in the brutal infighting, which included one extraordinary claim there was a ‘lot of concern in the building’ about Boris Johnson after his bizarre rambling speech to the CBI.
But there were more signs of frustration from Mr Sunak’s camp today, with an ally telling The Times he is ‘increasingly frustrated’ at the lack of professionalism.
An anonymous government source told the paper Mr Sunak was concerned because he ‘keeps being hit by the maelstrom of chaos next door’.
Rishi Sunak has become ‘increasingly frustrated with Boris Johnson’s maelstrom of chaos after the prime minister’s disastrous Peppa Pig speech, bungled rail announcement and MPs’ rebellion
Allies of the chancellor said he believes Prime Minister Boris Johnson must show greater professionalism following a series of damaging crises this week
Conservative whips pressured backbench MPs to pack the Commons chamber for Prime Minister’s Questions and cheer on the PM as Sir Keir Starmer twisted the knife over a string of U-turns and mishaps.
Mr Sunak put on a pointed show of unity, nodding along as the PM defended his record.
The Chancellor’s appearance alongside Mr Johnson followed revelations in the Daily Mail yesterday that some senior figures in Government blame the Treasury for a toxic briefing against the PM earlier this week.
A ‘senior Downing Street source’ told the BBC there was ‘a lot of concern inside the building about the PM’ following a botched speech to the CBI on Monday in which Mr Johnson lost his place for more than 20 seconds.
The briefing has led to a Whitehall hunt for the so-called ‘Chatty Pig’ responsible.
Several sources pointed the finger at Mr Booth-Smith, head of the joint No 10/Treasury economic unit.
The claim was strongly denied by the Treasury. A friend of Mr Booth-Smith said it was ‘not his style’ to give damaging briefings.
An ally of Mr Sunak told the Times: ‘Liam is a first-rate individual, he brings professionalism in everything he does. I hope we’re not going to have a repeat of the Sajid situation.’
Many in government believe the real source of the briefing is based in No 10, which has also been hit by infighting.
The Chancellor’s appearance alongside Mr Johnson followed revelations in the Daily Mail yesterday that some senior figures in Government blame the Treasury for a toxic briefing against the PM earlier this week
But the claim has sparked renewed tensions between the Chancellor and Mr Johnson, which have been simmering for weeks.
The PM’s press secretary sought to play down the row yesterday, telling reporters the two men were ‘working together well’.
She added: ‘The PM and Chancellor, and the entire government, is focused on getting on and delivering on people’s priorities.’
Tory unease about Mr Johnson’s Downing Street operation was heightened yesterday by a poll suggesting the PM’s approval rating has fallen to a record low.
The Savanta ComRes survey put Mr Johnson’s net approval rating at minus 14. It also gave Labour a narrow two-point lead.
However, Mr Johnson was still rated as ‘best PM’ by 39 per cent – well ahead of Sir Keir on 30 per cent.
Senior Tories dismissed reports that up to 14 MPs had submitted letters of no confidence in the PM to backbench shop steward Sir Graham Brady. A total of 54 letters is needed to trigger a leadership contest.
The premier suffered another blow as a Savanta ComRes poll suggested the chaos is cutting through to voters, with his net favourability score dropping to minus 14 and Labour in the overall lead