Boris Johnson has given an assurance that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will be in post for the Autumn budget, but declined to say Priti Patel would remain in her role.
The embattled incumbent of Number 10 was asked, during his visit to India, whether Sunak would stay in his job in wake of partygate, responding “the answer is yes”.
This comes as both the PM and Chancellor have come under severe pressure due to a series of political scandals, including both being handed fixed penalty notices over partygate.
Sunak was also criticised for his wife’s tax arrangements, with his popularity plummeting and him falling down the pecking order of who might succeed Johnson. He considered resigning over the issue, it was reported earlier this month.
The prime minister, who now faces a Commons inquiry over whether he lied to Parliament over partygate, also responded to questions about Priti Patel’s job, after she negotiated a new and controversial policy, to send Channel migrants to Rwanda.
He refused to be drawn on whether the home secretary would stay in post, saying according to the Times: “Hang on, you’ve just reminded me of rule No 1, which I totally forgot about. Rule No 1: don’t talk about politicians, talk about what politicians can do for the electorate,”
When asked why Sunak’s job was guaranteed but not Patel’s, he responded: “Well, c’est la vie. I am saying no more about personnel, the prosopographical approach is not right.”
When asked if the home secretary’s Rwanda refugee win saved her job amid criticism over soaring numbers of people trying to get to the UK, Johnson said: “Oh for heaven’s sake, honestly . . . I’m sorry I broke my rule, you’re not going to get any more out of me about politicians or Westminster politics narrowly conceived.”