Shortly after he received the resignations of Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid, Boris Johnson addressed around 70 Tory MPs who are still sort-of loyal to him. I’m told by one loyal colleague – who sounded rather bewildered by the whole thing – that Johnson was ‘remarkably bullish’, claiming he is going to appoint a new Chancellor and Health Secretary tonight, and that now there might be a chance of delivering some tax cuts.
That last comment was him lashing out at Sunak for repeatedly blocking what Tory MPs have been calling for as a means of getting the economy going. Last week, I reported that they were calling for Johnson to appoint some kind of economic adviser who would help him stand up to the Treasury: now he has to appoint a Chancellor who he hopes will do his bidding. Remember that this was the brief Johnson had for Sunak, who got the job after Sajid Javid quit from that post, saying he couldn’t work in the conditions the Prime Minister was trying to impose on him. The PM’s hope of a new malleable ally in the Treasury didn’t work out that well.
Johnson was ‘clapped in and clapped out’ by MPs (that is, applauded, rather than looking clapped out), and his words were received warmly. But rebels I have spoken to in the aftermath of these resignations are clear that at least two more cabinet ministers are teetering on the brink too. More tellingly, loyalists are confused about how it is possible for any Chancellor appointment to mean anything: ‘No one has survived this kind of thing before,’ says one.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.