Cabinet squabbles as Boris Johnson ‘told to sack Rishi Sunak’

Boris Johnson’s cabinet appears to have descended into squabbling over loyalty to the prime minister after both chancellor Rishi Sunak and health secretary Sajid Javid distanced themselves from his Savile slur.

One cabinet member called for Mr Johnson to sack Mr Sunak, according The Times – which reported on two other ministers accusing the chancellor of being “on manoeuvres” for the leadership.

It follows the chancellor’s public criticism of the prime minister’s discredited claim Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer “failed” to prosecute Jimmy Saville – with Mr Sunak saying he “wouldn’t” have made those remarks.

An unnamed cabinet minister told the newspaper that Mr Sunak was making “blatant” efforts to position himself as a replacement PM. “Once the May elections are out the way there will be a reshuffle. Sunak has to go. I don’t see how he [Mr Johnson] can keep someone who is so openly on manoeuvres.”

A fellow cabinet minister was quoted as saying Mr Sunak was being “sly” and “looking at the future and can see the end of Boris on the horizon”, while another criticised the chancellor’s advisers for “encouraging him to stir things up”.

Health secretary Sajid Javid also appeared to find fault with the prime minister over the initial smear attack, saying Sir Keir deserved “absolute respect” for the job he did as director of public prosecutions.

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries, a fierce defender of Mr Johnson, said on Saturday that Mr Javid was “quite shocked” at how his remarks had been reported as criticism.

“I spoke to Sajid Javid last night and he reassured me that he is 100 per cent behind the prime minister. What you’re reporting about Sajid Javid turning his back on the prime minister is not true.”

Asked about Mr Sunak’s comments on the Savile saga, Ms Dorries said Mr Sunak was “entitled to his views”.

It comes as John Glen – a junior Treasury minister – has said the situation with No 10 was “deeply uncomfortable, disappointing, and embarrassing”.

Writing in his local newspaper The Salisbury Journal, the MP did not call for Mr Johnson to resign. But Mr Glen said the culture in No 10 “fell short of what the country had a right to expect”.

The minister said he spoken to Mr Johnson this week “and took the opportunity to tell him in person how frustrated and let down we all feel”.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, speaking on the Newscast programme, said she had been told Mr Johnson had make various pledges to wavering MPs in a bid to shore up support.

The prime minister was said to have told a backbencher he could sack Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg.

“Some say he promised to get rid of the chief whip and one MP suggested he said he would get rid of the leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg,” said Ms Kuenssberg.

She added: “That is not a proven claim but that is what one MP said that in good faith the PM told him personally … Whether he does some of the other things he promised to MPs, we will see.”

Mr Johnson tried to win over backbenchers by promising them more power in a letter on Friday, announcing the creation of backbench committees to advise on government policy.

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