A furious Boris Johnson threatened to sack Rishi Sunak after a leaked letter from the chancellor calling for travel restrictions to be eased was leaked to the press.
Labour have called on the prime minister to stop falling out with colleagues and “get a grip on the real challenges facing this country”, calling the dysfunction at the heart of government “disgraceful”.
“The Covid pandemic continues, tens of thousands of livelihoods are still at risk, the climate crisis threatens our planet but [Johnson] he’s busy picking fights with his own government and threatening to sack the chancellor,” said Labout’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Bridget Phillipson., adding: “It’s completely disgraceful.”
‘Tonto’ Johnson’s fit of frustration at Sunak
The Sunday Times reports that a furious Johnson went “tonto” and “ranted” about Sunak at a meeting with around a dozen officials, during which he suggested the chancellor be demoted to health secretary.
“I’ve been thinking about it,” Johnson is said to have told officials in, what the Independent calls, “a fit of frustration”.
“Maybe it’s time we looked at Rishi as the next secretary of state for health,” the PM continued. “He could potentially do a very good job there.”
Although former chancellor Sajid Javid has only recently been appointed to the post following Matt Hancock’s resignation, it is international trade secretary Liz Truss who is most tipped to succeed Sunak, with a source quoted by the Independent, saying: “The PM keeps talking about Liz Truss. He’s always got on quite well with her. He thinks she’s controllable.”
The report of Johnson’s falling out with Sunak comes less than a week after the Times reported the prime minister’s popularity has plummeted among Conservative members who give Johnson just a 3.4 net satisfaction rating. Another survey by the ConservativeHome website says a third of respondents think Sunak should succeed Johnson as PM.
PM’s green agenda ‘plunged into chaos’
Meanwhile the Telegraph reports further trouble between Numbers 10 and 11 with Johnson’s big green agenda “plunged into chaos amid fears that the costs of reaching “net zero” could cripple working class families in newly-won Tory seats.”
A Treasury review looking at the costs of achieving net zero by 2050 suggests the UK’s poorest households will be hardest hit by policies that include replacing gas fired boilers and fossil fuelled cars.
Sunak is reportedly “increasingly concerned” about a “triple threat of rocketing energy bills”, inflation and a raft of other expensive policies needed to cut emissions.
It is claimed the review – due to have been published in the spring of 2021 – has still not been published because the analysis suggests Johnson’s green agenda will “be politically toxic” in the so-called red wall seats won by the Conservatives in the December 2019 election.
The Telegraph says the review is “among several key documents to have been significantly delayed amid wrangling in Whitehall” about extending the national debt or “’clobbering’ the finances of working class families”.
Government’s green agenda to cost £1.4 trillion says OBR
Such is the concern among Conservative backbenchers that a new “net zero scrutiny group” of Tory MPs has been formed to scrutinise the government’s green agenda.
Chairman of the group, Craig Mackinlay, MP for south Thanet in Kent, said the spending proposed would mirror policies porposed by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.
Mackinlay said: “The Conservatives’ strongest hand has always been credibility: credibility to deliver good economics and good governance. To ape the failed policies of an extreme Labour politician does not seem to be the way of electoral success.”