It has been claimed that Rishi Sunak was persuaded not to resign as chancellor after being fined for breaches of lockdown laws after executives from media mogul Rupert Murdoch intervened.
The claim is detailed in a new book by the Telegraph’s political editor and published by the newspaper on Friday.
It is the latest report to suggest that Mr Sunak was close to resigning after both he and Boris Johnson were fined for attending the then prime minister’s birthday party at Downing Street in June 2020.
According to the newspaper, Mr Sunak shared the draft resignation statement with allies, including some who worked for Mr Murdoch, such as former Tory leader and Times columnist Lord Hague.
It was also reported that Mr. Sunak’s possible resignation was discussed with Mas Siddiqui, an old friend and director of Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp.
However, the newspaper said it was not known whether a message from Mr Murdoch had been passed directly to Mr Sunak.
Since then, Mr Johnson has told people that Mr Murdoch had intervened to persuade Mr Sunak not to quit, as was also claimed.
A News UK spokeswoman declined to comment, while a spokesman for Mr Johnson said he did not recognize the account.
A Number 10 source said that at no point did Mr Sunak speak to Mr Murdoch about resigning.
Mr Sunak actually came under pressure over whether he would resign after the fine notice was issued in April 2022.
He reportedly pondered for hours about whether to resign but ultimately decided to remain in Downing Street with Mr Johnson.
Mr Sunak resigned as chancellor just months later, and his resignation sparked a mass strike by ministers that eventually forced Mr Johnson from Downing Street.