David Cameron would be prepared to sack George Osborne from his government despite the close friendship between the men, the Tory leader insists in an interview tomorrow.
Mr Cameron has already guaranteed that Mr Osborne would be made Chancellor if the Tories win the next election, but he said that the two men have regularly discussed the possibility of moving the shadow Chancellor to another, more low-profile post. The Conservative leader also signalled that he expected his old friend, whom he praised as a "big man", to go quietly if he was dismissed.
The disclosure comes in an ITV1 interview to be broadcast tomorrow. The one-hour programme was arranged after the Tories complained about the exposure given to Gordon Brown in his soft encounter with Piers Morgan.
"I have friendships in politics, of course, but that will never stop me from making the right decisions," Mr Cameron told Sir Trevor McDonald. The Tory leader added that it had been Mr Osborne's idea to bring back the veteran former Cabinet minister, Kenneth Clarke, to the Tory frontbench as shadow Business Secretary.
Labour believe that Mr Osborne could prove the most vulnerable target in the Tory top team during the election and plan to contrast his relative inexperience with Alistair Darling's knowledge of the Treasury.
Mr Cameron, who has been accused of leaning too heavily on a small circle of trusted allies, insisted that he would have the necessary ruthless streak to choose the right people for office: "I have had Shadow Cabinet reshuffles, sometimes having to say goodbye to friends and people that I like, but I have to be able to do that."
The first extended interview with Samantha Cameron, his wife, concentrated on the minutiae of their home life rather than politics. "Our life would change, you know, and that is daunting and I'm sure we would have to make sacrifices," she said. "But for me personally it would be a huge honour to do everything that I possibly could to support him and make sure that he could do the job to the very best of his abilities."
She said that her husband was a good cook, but makes a "terrible" mess, and leaves his clothes on the floor. She said: "Like any husband he has lots of very irritating habits."
ITV is also making an hour-long documentary about Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader.Reuse content