The Chancellor has been tight-lipped over the scandals hitting neighbouring No10 as the Prime Minister braces for the publication of civil servant Sue Gray’s investigation this week. But as the incumbent Prime Minister looks to be on an increasingly uncertain footing with the public and his own party, thoughts have turned to who will be eyeing up the top job if Mr Johnson bows to pressure to resign.
Among the top contenders is Rishi Sunak, who has managed to maintain a relatively removed from the quicksand of lockdown-related scandal and allegations of “blackmail” by Tory whips.
Reports now suggest that Mr Sunak is actively cultivating a support base for himself from those Tory MPs disillusioned with Boris Johnson.
The collection of MPs, known colloquially as the Pork Pie Plotters, are thought to be the choice of allies for Mr Sunak and close leadership rival, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
One MP who claims to have been targeted by Mr Sunak’s charm offensive suggested the Chancellor has a firmer idea of when he will pursue a leadership bid than his rival.
They told The Mail on Sunday: “My impression is that Liz wants to go for it now, while Rishi would prefer for all this fuss to die down and run in the summer.”
The source told the publication that last week, both Mr Sunak and Ms Truss reached out to the rebel group.
This followed a gruelling Prime Minister’s Questions in which former Tory Christian Wakeford dramatically defected to the Labour Party, and a questionable performance by Mr Johnson during an interview with Sky News.
A source claimed Mr Sunak reassured the rebel Tory MPs that their constituencies would receive “unlimited” Treasury support.
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A number of letters of no confidence have been submitted to Sir Graham Brady, who chairs the 1922 Committee, and former Cabinet minister David Davis rocked the boat in the Commons by demanding rather exasperatedly that the Prime Minister hand in his resignation.
However, depending on the outcome of Ms Gray’s investigation, a number of MPs are believed to have their no-confidence letters ready to submit, The Mail on Sunday claimed.
It also comes in the wake of Tory MP William Wragg announcing he will meet with the Metropolitan Police over the allegations that Downing Street attempted to “blackmail” MPs who opposed Boris Johnson.
The MP, who chairs the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said he will meet a detective from Scotland Yard early next week in the House of Commons.