Boris Johnson 'planned to oust Rishi Sunak as Chancellor before he resigned,' claims former media chief

9 May 2023, 09:27 | Updated: 9 May 2023, 13:04

Guto Harri said Boris Johnson was planning to oust Rishi Sunak as Chancellor
Guto Harri said Boris Johnson was planning to oust Rishi Sunak as Chancellor. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Boris Johnson planned to oust Rishi Sunak from his job as chancellor before he resigned, No 10’s former director of communications Guto Harri has claimed.

Harri said Mr Sunak "beat him to it and brought the whole show down" in an interview with Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC.

Harri, who has detailed his time in Downing Street in a new podcast series Unprecedented for Global Player, told Nick he thinks Rishi is a ‘class act’ but there was a ‘fundamental disagreement in policy’ between the two men that went beyond Partygate.

Mr Sunak was widely blamed by allies of Mr Johnson for his downfall last summer, after dramatically quitting as chancellor. His decision to quit was followed by a flood of ministerial resignations that eventually forced the Prime Minister from No 10.

“It wasn’t over a personality clash. There was a limited amount of money left because the government understandably blew a lot of money during covid. What do you do with the money that’s left?," Mr Harri said.

Listen and subscribe to Unprecedented: Inside Downing Street on Global Player

Guto Harri explains how Rishi Sunak outmanoeuvred Boris Johnson

“There was a lot of pressure in the party to cut taxes. That explains why Liz Truss beat Rishi to the leadership.

"There was a lot of pressure from Boris to build nuclear power stations and offshore wind farms so that we didn’t have a cost of living crisis in 10 years time, and Rishi was stubbornly sticking to the idea that the most important thing to do with tens of billions of pounds was to cushion the impact of people's bills today.

"Valid point of view but the tension was building between the two of them."

Read more: Boris 'squared up to Charles' in row over slavery says ex-No.10 media chief

Listen and subscribe to Unprecedented: Inside Downing Street on Global Player from Thursday May 11
Listen and subscribe to Unprecedented: Inside Downing Street on Global Player from Thursday May 11. Picture: LBC

“Frankly if things hadn’t turned out as they did last July, I think over the summer we’d have had a reshuffle and Rishi would have been offered a different job.”

He added that an imminent return to power for Mr Johnson was unrealistic, but suggested that there was a possibility it could happen after the next general election.

Mr Sunak's official spokesman, asked what the Downing Street incumbent thought of the remarks allegedly made by one of his predecessors, said he had not spoken to the Prime Minister about the reports.

The No 10 official added: "The Prime Minister uses appropriate language."

It also emerged in the podcast that Boris Johnson confronted King Charles, "essentially squaring up" to him for branding the Rwanda asylum policy "appalling".

Harri claimed Mr Johnson told him he "went in quite hard" on the then-prince.

Mr Johnson disputed his long-standing ally's account as "inaccurate", with a source saying he "deplores" any commentary on conversations with royals.

Charles and Mr Johnson discussed the King's reported criticism of the scheme as they met in Rwanda's capital of Kigali at a Commonwealth summit in June.

At the time, Mr Johnson described his discussion with Charles as a "good old chinwag" that "covered a lot of ground".

He wrote: "'I went in quite hard', he told me at the time, essentially squaring up to the prince and confronting him about what he - as unelected royalty - had said about the actions of a democratically elected government.

"Prince Charles was busted. He had obviously expressed some criticism, and though he tried to play it down, Boris pointed out the obvious, (saying): 'If you didn't say it we both know your people could ring the newspapers and kill the story. The fact they haven't done that says it all'."

Along with other former prime ministers, Mr Johnson's attended the King's coronation at the weekend.

Mr Harri claimed Charles and Mr Johnson had struggled to get on for years after the politician was late for a meeting while London mayor, but that Rwanda was the final straw.

"Relations never fully recovered and Charles will be relieved that Boris had left No 10 before he ascended to the throne," he added.

Unprecedented: Inside Downing Street - a new Global Player podcast

Mr Johnson brought Mr Harri into No 10 after a clearout of aides over the partygate scandal, bringing back his former City Hall communications adviser into his inner circle.

A source close to Mr Johnson said: "Boris Johnson does not recognise this account and it is inaccurate. It does not accurately reflect any conversation.

"We would never comment on these matters and Mr Johnson deplores any attempt to do so."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Rishi Sunak Welcomes Rwandan President Paul Kagame To Downing Street

Sunak wants to deport migrants to Armenia, Costa Rica and Botswana in a bid to replicate Rwanda scheme

Brits are up in arms over the new daily charge

'They would be begging us to come back': Brits vow to ‘boycott Spain’ over new £97 daily rule

Indonesia Landslide

Landslides hit Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, killing at least 18 people

The English rock bank performed at Coachella on Sunday

‘You’re never seeing us again’: Blur’s lead singer blasts ‘disgraceful’ Coachella crowd and vows not to return again

Five of the six victims from the stabbing have been named.

‘Obvious’ Sydney attacker targeted women, Australian police say, as sixth victim named

The Israeli Iron Dome air defence system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran

Israel hails ‘success’ in blocking Iran’s unprecedented attack

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the Middle East is 'on the brink'

'The Middle East is on the brink,' UN chief warns, as Israel approves plan of attack after huge Iranian onslaught

Elections 2024 Media Debates

News organisations urge Joe Biden and Donald Trump to agree to debates

Survivors of the attack are set to sue MI5

Hundreds of survivors of Manchester Arena bombing to sue MI5

The UK is set to experience some warm, dry weather

Two-week period when Brits to bask in warm, dry weather revealed, after cold period ahead

Lennix died after being hit by a car on Saturday

Parents pay tribute to 'happy go lucky' son, 8, killed in crash while riding scooter on quiet Wiltshire road

Damien Guerot stepped in in Sydney

Builder who wielded bollard to defend children from rampaging Sydney knifeman says attacker's 'eyes were empty'

The IDF said over 300 weapons were fired by Iran.

Israel approves plan of attack after foiling massive Iran onslaught, as world leaders call for 'stabilisation'

The G7 have condemned the Iran attack on Israel

G7 leaders condemn Iran's 'unprecedented' attack on Israel and say they 'stand ready to take further measures'

Russia Ukraine War

More civilians die in Ukraine amid warning US aid delays will hamper Kyiv forces

The minibus lying on its side

Seventeen rushed to hospital after bus carrying football fans overturns on motorway in multiple car smash