Next month’s budget could be delayed in the wake of Sajid Javid’s resignation as chancellor, a minister has told Sky News.
He said the prime minister’s demand was something “any self-respecting minister” would reject – and left him with “no option” but to quit.
Mr Javid’s departure – which came after weeks of reported tensions between him and the PM’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings – throws the date of the next budget on 11 March into doubt.
Downing Street has refused to guarantee that it will go ahead as scheduled, with a spokesman saying only that “extensive preparations have already been carried out for the budget and they will continue at pace”.
Asked if the budget was still going ahead as planned, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “I know that the budget plans are well advanced but I also know that Rishi Sunak, the new chancellor, may want time.
“I haven’t heard whether the date of March is confirmed as yet.
“He is probably looking at it, I should think this week.”
Mr Shapps also denied suggestions that Mr Cummings was “all powerful” in Whitehall.
He cited the decision to proceed with the HS2 high speed rail link – a project Mr Cummings is known to be against.
“It is not the case that things necessarily go Dominic Cummings’ way or anyone else’s,” he said.
“Take HS2, a big decision that Dominic had views about, I had views about.
“We discussed it, we discussed our various views, and we came to a conclusion.
“The idea that just because Dominic thinks something, that’s what happens is clearly not the case.”
Mr Shapps appeared to suggest in his interview that Mr Javid’s advisers had not been working in harmony with Number 10.
“The way that my special advisers work, is I want them to be working closely with Number 10,” he said.
“I want them to be delivering the same policy.
“We’ve got this massive agenda of levelling up the country and uniting the country and that’s best done when we are all on the same page and singing from the same hymn sheet.”
Sir Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, said Mr Javid’s resignation had plunged the Treasury “into chaos”.
“Any delay in the budget will send out alarm bells that a major change of economic policy is now being planned without any democratic legitimacy from the Tory manifesto just weeks ago,” he said.