Boris Johnson ruled out second lockdown to stop Rishi Sunak quitting

Chancellor Rishi Sunak with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a media briefing in Downing Street, Lond

Chancellor Rishi Sunak with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on Coronavirus (COVID-19). Photograph: Matt Dunham/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

A senior Tory MP has claimed that Boris Johnson ruled out a second national lockdown to prevent chancellor Rishi Sunak from quitting.

Number 10 has denied a rift between the prime minister and his chancellor, but there are fears the pair are at odds about how best to deal with a second wave of the pandemic.

Sunak is said to have warned the PM about the economic impact of another lockdown, and is arguing to keep the country open to protect jobs and businesses.

Despite insistence Downing Street is "following the science", Johnson appeared to side with his chancellor over medical and scientific experts, who warned one could be essential to save lives.

A senior MP told The Sun that it was intended to keep Sunak in post.

He said: "There were fears he would find it difficult to carry on if he was ignored.

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'"It was all down to the chancellor that we avoided delivering a hammer blow to the economy and took a more balanced approach instead. Rishi saved the day."

Talk of a rift came after Sunak told the nation "our lives can no longer be put on hold" during his speech unveiling his Winter Economic Plan, a contradiction of the prime minister's message.

Johnson was not present for the speech, but Number 10 denied disagreement between the pair.

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