PM promises Rishi Sunak ‘will still be Chancellor in the autumn’

The Prime Minister did not rule out carrying out a reshuffle of his Cabinet in June.

21 April 2022

Boris Johnson has promised that Rishi Sunak will still be Chancellor in the autumn, but refused to guarantee a job for Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The Prime Minister did not rule out carrying out a reshuffle of his Cabinet in June, as he battles to remain in No 10 after being fined over breaching his coronavirus laws.

He gave a clear guarantee that Mr Sunak, who was also fined over the 56th birthday party for the Prime Minister, would still be in the Treasury come the autumn.

“The answer to that is yes,” Mr Johnson responded to reporters travelling with him in India.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
Home Secretary Priti Patel (Yui Mok/PA)

But he declined to give a similar promise when asked about Ms Patel, who has failed to curb the number of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats.

“Hang on, you’ve just reminded me of rule number one which I totally forgot about. Rule number one: don’t talk about politicians, talk about what politicians can do for the electorate,” he replied.

Mr Sunak had been on resignation watch after the fines were issued, but chose to stay on, in a move seen as helping the Prime Minister stay on to fight another day.

Asked why he would guarantee Mr Sunak’s job and not others, he said: “Well there you go. Well, c’est la vie.

“Do you know, to repeat what I’ve just said, I am saying no more about personnel, the prosopographical approach is not right.”

Mr Johnson has stuck by Ms Patel despite an investigation by his then standards chief finding in 2020 she broke the ministerial code with behaviour towards civil servants that amounted to bullying.

She was last week behind the eye-catching announcement of sending some asylum seekers arriving by unauthorised means 4,000 miles to Rwanda on a one-way ticket.

Priti Patel visit to Rwanda
Home Secretary Priti Patel and Rwandan minister for foreign affairs and international co-operation, Vincent Biruta (Flora Thompson/PA)

The policy was seen as an offer to shore up support among Conservative hardliners, as Mr Johnson suffers from the fallout of breaches of coronavirus rules in Downing Street.

Mr Johnson praised the Home Secretary for doing an “outstanding job” on the asylum scheme, which’s critics ranging from refugee charities to Tory MPs to Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Asked if the Rwanda policy saved Ms Patel’s job, the Prime Minister 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. We’ve got to focus on the agenda for the country.”

He did however vow to stay on in No 10 himself despite how many additional fines he gets for breaking Covid laws.

Asked on the plane to Gujarat if he will fight the next general election, he replied bluntly: “Of course, yes.”

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