‘There is no vacancy’: No10 dismisses calls to make Jeremy Hunt a ‘unity’ Chancellor after he spearheaded Tory no-confidence revolt against the PM
- No10 dismissed idea of Jeremy Hunt making government return as Chancellor
- The former Health Secretary spearheaded confidence revolt against the PM
- Downing Street insisted ‘there is no vacancy’ and Rishi Sunak doing a good job
The PM’s spokesman said there is ‘no vacancy’ in No11 and Rishi Sunak is doing an ‘excellent’ job after the prospect was touted.
Ex-Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt lost to Boris Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest, and has been accused of being ‘on manoeuvres’ again for months.
He broke cover on Monday to say he would be voting against the premier in the dramatic confidence ballot – sparking fury from ministers.
However, some of Mr Johnson’s allies have reportedly urged him to bring Mr Hunt back into the government replacing Mr Sunak.
No10 aides have ridiculed the idea. And the PM’s press secretary said this afternoon: ‘There is no vacancy for this role. We have an excellent Chancellor.’
Downing Street today dismissed the idea of Boris Johnson (right) making Jeremy Hunt (left) a ‘unity’ Chancellor after he spearheaded the Tory revolt
The PM’s spokesman said there is ‘no vacancy’ in No11 and Rishi Sunak (pictured) is doing an ‘excellent’ job after the prospect was touted
Mr Hunt called for ‘change’ in the run-up to the confidence vote, saying: ‘Anyone who believes our country is stronger, fairer & more prosperous when led by Conservatives should reflect that the consequence of not changing will be to hand the country to others who do not share those values. Today’s decision is change or lose. I will be voting for change.’
But an incensed Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries took to Twitter and gave interviews slating him and his record as Health Secretary, saying he had left the country ‘wanting and unprepared’ for the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘Your handling of the pandemic would have been a disaster,’ she said.
‘Your pandemic preparation during six years as health secretary was found wanting and inadequate. Your duplicity right now in destabilising the party and country to serve your own personal ambition, more so…
‘If you had been leader you’d have handed the keys of No10 to Corbyn. You’ve been wrong about almost everything, you are wrong again now.’
No10 tried to cool the row today, denying Ms Dorries had been sent out to attack Mr Hunt and stressing her comments were before vote.
Aides insisted the PM wants to unify the party and believes Mr Hunt was a good Health Secretary.
Mr Johnson swiped that Tory critics do not like the ‘big and remarkable’ things his government is doing as MPs lined up behind him at PMQs.
The premier was given a solid reception with cheers as he arrived in the Commons for the regular session – the first opportunity to take the temperature in the chamber since the confidence vote showdown.
But Mr Johnson responded to Labour jibes that the 148-strong revolt against him meant he was ‘loathed’ by insisting he has ‘barely begun’ and will focus on ‘delivering for the British people’.
‘In a long political career so far – barely begun – I’ve of course picked up political opponents all over and that is because this Government has done some very big and very remarkable things which they didn’t necessarily approve of,’ the PM said.
‘And what I want her to know is that absolutely nothing and no-one, least of all her, is going to stop us with getting on delivering for the British people.’
The omens are looking better for the premier, with Keir Starmer struggling to land any significant blows during their exchanges. Rebel ringleaders are admitting he has more time after seeing off the coup attempt in the secret ballot on Monday, albeit more narrowly than No10 had hoped.
When SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford compared him to the Black Knight from Monty Python, the PM could be seen off-mic saying it was ‘not even a flesh wound’.
Jeremy Hunt (left) – who lost the last leadership contest to Mr Johnson – tweeted before the confidence vote that he was going against the PM.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries launched a vicious retort at Mr Hunt after he joined the rebellion against the PM