Boris not 'unsackable' following Brexit interventions, Work and Pensions Secretary indicates

David Gauke also admitted he had his eye on becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer one day during a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Sunday 01 October 2017 18:38
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David Gauke, who has been appointed Works and Pensions Secretary, leaves 10 Downing Street
David Gauke, who has been appointed Works and Pensions Secretary, leaves 10 Downing Street

A cabinet minister has signalled that Boris Johnson is not ‘unsackable’ after the Foreign Secretary made a series of high-profile interventions undermining the Prime Minister’s Brexit strategy.

Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke said all politicians “serve at the pleasure of the Prime Minister” as he threw his weight behind Theresa May’s leadership.

Regarded as one of the Conservative Party's rising stars, Mr Gauke also said he held no ambitions to be Prime Minister but admitted he had his eye on becoming Chancellor one day.

It comes after Ms May was forced to insisted her cabinet was “united”, despite several cabinet ministers refusing to endorse her leadership going into the next election.

Mr Gauke told a Huffington Post fringe event at the annual Tory conference that Mr Johnson was a “big figure” but when asked if he was ‘unsackable’, he said: “It’s not for me to determine these things. We all serve at the pleasure of the Prime Minister.”

He said Ms May could stay on as leader, adding: “If she can deliver on her domestic agenda, if she can deliver the Brexit that she is seeking to deliver, she will have really excellent record.

“And she will be able to go to the country and say, ‘These are the challenges we face as the country and I have delivered on it’… In those circumstances I think she would be a very, very formidable candidate in a general election.”

The South-West Hertfordshire MP was promoted to the work and pensions brief in the post-election reshuffle this year after seven years as a minister in the Treasury.

Asked about his leadership ambitions, he said: "To be honest, there are huge qualities and attributes that you need to be Prime Minister and I think I am probably missing several of them, one of which is the really strong desire to do the job."

Mr Gauke said he admired the way that Mrs May "stuck at it" after her disappointing election, adding: "I question whether I would have that resilience in those circumstances.

"I'm not someone who has ever wanted particularly to do that job."

Asked if he would like to add Chancellor to his list of Treasury jobs, he said: "Maybe one day, yes. Years down the line, when the family are older, maybe I would like to do that."

Splits emerged in the Tory party at the weekend over Mr Johnson's behaviour after he used an eve-of-conference interview to lay down a raft of red lines on Brexit including an insistence that a transition phase must not last "a second more" than two years.

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