Saturday 7 December 2019

Boris Johnson offers Osborne job in 'unity government'

George Osborne. Photo: Reuters
George Osborne. Photo: Reuters

Peter Dominiczak

George Osborne has been offered the opportunity to be British chancellor or foreign secretary in Boris Johnson and Michael Gove's "dream ticket" leadership plan.

In an attempt to form a "unity government" in the wake of the EU referendum, Mr Johnson and Mr Gove have started talks with the current chancellor, trying to secure his support.

They believe his backing is essential if the Conservative Party is to come together in the wake of the divisive campaign.

However, Mr Osborne is understood to be furious at the pair's behaviour in recent months, and is still contemplating a leadership bid himself.

Another option is that Mr Osborne may give his support to a "stop Boris" candidate, most likely to be Theresa May, the Home Secretary.

Under Mr Gove's plan, Mr Osborne would have first pick of either continuing in the Treasury or taking the role of foreign secretary, sources have said. Mr Gove himself would then take whichever job Mr Osborne did not choose, allowing him to run the Brexit negotiations with Brussels from either the Treasury or the Foreign Office.

Mr Johnson is expected to announce his decision to contest the party leadership within days, backed by Mr Gove.

Mr Johnson yesterday held talks in his Oxfordshire home with Mr Gove and a number of other MPs preparing to back his leadership challenge.

Meanwhile, British Home Secretary Ms May will announce within days that she is standing for the leadership.

Ms May's bid is likely to receive backing from MPs loyal to Prime Minister David Cameron, who are appalled at the way he had to announce he will resign, after losing the EU referendum.

One source close to Mr Cameron said at the weekend: "There is a special place in hell reserved for Boris. We need to get behind Theresa. She's the grown-up."

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