RISHI Sunak has fuelled fevered speculation he is angling to replace Boris Johnson as PM.
The ambitious Chancellor repeatedly refused to rule out going for the top job if Tory MPs give BoJo the boot.
Twelve Conservatives have so far broken cover to publicly demand the PM quits following the Partygate storm.
Many see the slick Mr Sunak as his natural heir after proving a hit with the public during lockdown.
Quizzed on his ambitions, the Chancellor told the BBC it’s “very kind” of colleagues to put him forward but insisted there was no vacancy.
He then declined four times to rule out a leadership tilt and dismissed it as a “hypothetical situation”.
He insisted: “The Prime Minister has my full support. And what people want from me is to be getting on with my job, which is what I’m doing.”
Mr Sunak has been accused of offering only lukewarm support for his boss during recent party rows.
But today he said the PM “of course” tells the truth and said he was glad Mr Johnson apologised after Sue Gray’s redacted report.
He added: “I can appreciate people’s frustration. And I think it’s now the job of all of us in government and all politicians to restore people’s trust.
“But I think the best way for me to play a part in that is by delivering on the things that people expect me to do. And that’s making sure that we rebuild our economy after coronavirus.”
Mr Sunak admitted he was in the Cabinet room for a birthday bash thrown for the PM, but was not aware of all the other parties.
He said: “I don’t spend my time staring out of that window.”