Downing Street has denied running an anti-Rishi Sunak smear campaign as Boris Johnson’s allies singled out the former chancellor for criticism in an increasingly bitter leadership contest.
The caretaker Prime Minister’s press secretary insisted Mr Johnson is “staying neutral” despite his remaining loyalists throwing their support behind Liz Truss.
Mr Sunak, who currently commands the most public declaration of support from Tory MPs, faced claims from the Foreign Secretary’s supporters of implementing “economically damaging” policies.
They have also attacked his campaign with claims it has engaged in “dirty tricks” to manipulate the Tory leadership that will select the next prime minister.
Asked if No 10 is involved in a “stop Sunak” operation as the first round of voting loomed on Wednesday, Mr Johnson’s press secretary said: “No.”
She declined to say whether Downing Street remains supportive of the former chancellor whose resignation helped end Mr Johnson’s grip on No 10.
The press secretary said she did not know whether Mr Johnson discussed backing Ms Truss with Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg before they made their public declaration in Downing Street.
“He’s staying neutral in this contest,” the spokeswoman said.