Boris Johnson has ‘full confidence’ in Rishi Sunak, insists No 10 amid growing rift rumours

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DOWNING Street today scrambled to squash rumours of a growing rift between Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak – insisting the pair are working “in lockstep”.

No10 insisted the PM has full confidence in the Chancellor amid reports he threatened to demote him to Health Sec during an angry outburst.

Downing Street played down reports of a rift with Rishi Sunak

A Cabinet Minister added that there was always “creative tension” between No10 and No11 – but their bond was solid.

Tensions were said to have boiled over when a letter from Mr Sunak calling on the PM to urgently ease travel restrictions leaked to the press.

Relations have been strained by fiscally-minded Sunak’s resistance to plans for a spending binge on social care, pensions and the green agenda.

The PM’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have always enjoyed a close and effective working relationship, and will continue to do so.

“I think you can see, particularly during the pandemic, they have worked closely together.

“They have been in lockstep throughout this incredibly challenging period for the country. There are no plans for any reshuffle.”

A Treasury source also told HOAR that the pair have a strong relationship and “speak every day”.

STREET FIGHT

Confrontation between PMs and their chancellors is steeped in history, with the Treasury traditionally keen to keep a tighter grip on the purse strings.

Mr Sunak wants to get the public finances back on a more even keel after unprecedented peacetime spending on Covid handouts like furlough.

But Mr Johnson is eyeing up post-pandemic policies that could cost a bomb – and is thought to be in favour of a plan where the state foots all social care costs that spiral over £50,000.

Mr Sunak – who was parachuted into the Treasury in February last year – also recently topped a poll of who Conservative party members want to be the next leader.

Ascending from chancellor to prime minister is a well-trodden path, with four post-war chancellors making the leap.

Gordon Brown succeeded Tony Blair following a famously torrid period of Downing Street relations that rocked the New Labour government.

Playing down the most recent reports of a row, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng today told the BBC: “There are always disagreements.

“There was always going to be a slight creative tension perhaps between No 10 and No 11.

“I can’t remember a time in the last 30 years when there hasn’t been a debate, conversations, between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.

“I happen to think that this Prime Minister and this Chancellor are working very closely together.

“They are as cohesive as any relationship of that kind that I have seen.”

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