Rishi Sunak was persuaded not to quit as chancellor over his fine for breaking lockdown laws after an intervention by executives working for media mogul Rupert Murdoch, it has been claimed.
The claim is detailed in a book by the Telegraph’s political editor, Ben Riley-Smith, and published by the newspaper’s website on Friday.
It is the latest report to suggest that Sunak was on the verge of resigning after he and Boris Johnson were fined in April 2022 for attending the then prime minister’s birthday celebration in Downing Street in June 2020.
According to the paper, Sunak shared a draft resignation statement with allies, including some who worked for Murdoch such as former Tory leader and Times columnist Lord Hague.
It also reported that Sunak’s potential resignation was discussed with Mas Siddiqui, an old friend and director at Murdoch’s News Corp.
But the paper said that it is not known if a message was passed directly to Sunak from Murdoch.
Johnson has since told people that Murdoch intervened to persuade Sunak not to quit, it was also claimed.
A spokesperson for News UK declined to comment, while a spokesperson for Johnson said that he does not recognise the account.
A No 10 source said Sunak did not speak to Murdoch at any time about resigning.
Sunak did come under pressure over if he would resign after the fixed-penalty notice was issued in April 2022.
He reportedly spent hours agonising over whether to resign, but ultimately decided to stay in Downing Street along with Johnson.
Sunak would quit as chancellor only months later, with his resignation helping to spark a mass ministerial walkout that eventually forced Johnson from No 10.