Boris Johnson abandoned plans for a second national lockdown over fears Rishi Sunak could QUIT, senior MPs claims as rift claims deepen
- Rishi Sunak warned second national lockdown would make job near impossible
- He argued to keep Britain open to protect millions of jobs and businesses
- On Thursday, Mr Sunak said the nation needed to learn to ‘live without fear’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson abandoned his plans for a second national lockdown over fears Rishi Sunak could quit, a senior MP said as rift claims deepen.
Mr Sunak warned the economic impact caused by a second national lockdown would make his job near impossible.
He argued to keep Britain open to protect millions of jobs and businesses despite medical and scientific experts wanting tougher restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, The Sun reported.
The Chancellor has introduced a number of measures to save jobs and businesses throughout the pandemic, including the Job Retention Scheme and Eat Out To Help Out.
Rishi Sunak argued to keep Britain open to protect millions of jobs and businesses despite medical and scientific experts wanting tougher restrictions to stop the spread of the virus
A senior MP told The Sun: ‘There were fears he would find it difficult to carry on if he was ignored.
‘It was all down to the Chancellor that we avoided delivering a hammer blow to the economy and took a more balanced approach instead. Rishi saved the day.’
Yesterday, Mr Sunak’s deputy swatted away suggestions of a rift between the Chancellor and Mr Johnson over the Government’s coronavirus strategy.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay insisted both men were working ‘in tandem’ and denied Numbers 10 and 11 were adopting different approaches.
On Thursday Mr Sunak said the nation needed to learn to ‘live without fear’, just days after the Prime Minister tightened coronavirus laws amid a steep rise in cases.
Unveiling his Winter Economic Plan, the Chancellor said ‘our lives can no longer be put on hold’, which was widely interpreted to contradict the message from Mr Johnson.
Chief Medical Adviser Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance have been pushing for tighter restrictions.
Mr Sunak and Professor Whitty, along with Mr Johnson, are trying to balance the need to protect the economy and lives, with the two men in a ‘bidding war’ over what would cause the least damage, The Sun reported.
Chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady has led the opposition to Ministers ‘ruling by decree’ over Covid regulations.
Mr Sunak is making increasing objections from within the Cabinet to the restrictions.
Unveiling his Winter Economic Plan, the Chancellor said ‘our lives can no longer be put on hold’, which was widely interpreted to contradict the message from Mr Johnson (pictured)
Mr Johnson was forced to mediate between Mr Sunak and the pro-lockdown lobby led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove in the run-up to his decision last week to impose a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants.
At a Covid ‘quad’ meeting on September 18 – Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is the other member – Mr Sunak effectively blocked Mr Johnson when he proposed a two-week ‘circuit-breaking’ lockdown.
Mr Sunak’s Winter Economy Plan includes a scheme to top up the pay of people who can only work part-time in ‘viable jobs’.
It replaces the furlough scheme, which sees the Government top up the wages for employees who cannot work.
It also involves further VAT cuts for the hospitality and retail sectors and the extension of emergency loan schemes for struggling businesses.
MPs will be granted a vote on Mr Johnson’s controversial ‘rule of six’ on October 6, in a win for more than 40 Tory rebels MPs.
Downing Street insisted there is no rift at the top of Government, but Tory MPs are growing increasingly uneasy over the Government’s move to impose sweeping restrictions without Parliament voting on them.