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Rishi Sunak denies he ‘wielded the dagger’ in Boris Johnson’s downfall

Rishi Sunak denies he ‘wielded the dagger’ in Boris Johnson’s downfall
‘It was 60 other members of parliament that also thought enough was enough’

Rishi Sunak has told a Conservative member he was “simply wrong to say I wielded the dagger” in Boris Johnson’s downfall.

The remarks from the Tory leadership contender at the latest hustings event came as he defended his decision to quit as chancellor last month — just minutes after health secretary Sajid Javid resigned.

In the hours that followed, dozens of ministers also quit Mr Johnson’s government, while MPs in the Conservative Party expressed no confidence in the prime minister, who reluctantly set out his decision to resign.

During a question and answer session on Thursday, one Tory member was booed as he said: “I don’t know if it was Shakespeare on Heseltine, who said he who wields the dagger will never inherit the crown.”

Responding at the event in Darlington, Mr Sunak told the activist: “I was sad I had to resign actually. I was sad I resigned.

“Actually you are totally, and respectfully, you are simply wrong to say I wielded the dagger because it wasn’t just me that felt enough was enough.”

Cheered on by others in the audience, he added: “The government was on the wrong side of yet another ethical decision. It was 60 other members of parliament that also thought enough was enough.”

Asked whether Mr Johnson’s downfall was his own fault or that of someone else, Mr Sunak also received some applause from members of the audience as he replied: “His own.”

His Tory leadership rival, Liz Truss, was also later asked if Mr Johnson’s downfall was of his own making, or someone else’s.

After some members of the audience shouted out saying it was the “media”, the foreign secretary said to TalkTV host Tom Newton Dunn: “Sounds like you’re being blamed Tom and, you know, who am I to disagree with this excellent audience?”

Pressed to clarify her view, she outlined that she was a “loyal cabinet minister”, but did not directly answer the question, saying “what is done is done and we are where we are”.

Throughout the contest, those staunchly loyal to the outgoing prime minister have sought to highlight the issue and Mr Sunak’s loyalty, including culture secretary Nadine Dorries.

Just last month she received a backlash from colleagues for sharing a “distasteful” and “dangerous” doctored image on social media that showed Mr Sunak about to stab Mr Johnson in the back.

She had retweeted a modified image from a film, which had been altered to show the outgoing prime minister’s face imposed on the character of Julius Caesar and Mr Sunak’s on that of Brutus.