'Bit odd' that Boris Johnson took so long to resign, says Rishi Sunak

The former chancellor said his former boss's attempts to cling to power were a 'bit odd' as he said he still thinks he has a 'shot' at taking over as PM

Rishi Sunak has admitted it was a "bit odd" that it took Boris Johnson so long to resign as he said the outgoing prime minister was still blanking him.

The Tory leadership hopeful's resignation as chancellor triggered a wave of resignations that ultimately led to the downfall of his boss, in the wake of a series of scandals including partygate and the Chris Pincher controversy.

Asked if the PM took too long to stand down, Mr Sunak replied: “In the end it went on for a couple of days – it was a bit odd.

"I think people watching it were wondering what was going on."

Mr Sunak said he did not "immediately" think Mr Johnson should have resigned after his replacement, Nadhim Zahawi, was confirmed and although he acknowledged having a chancellor quit is a big blow, it is "not the end of the world".

"The thing that changed it was when 60 members of government all resigned and that happened over the course of a day," he added.

The pair have not spoken since Mr Sunak's resignation in July. Credit: PA/Commons

There have been some signs that Mr Sunak’s dramatic resignation may have damaged his chances at becoming PM, with a chunk of the membership still fond of Mr Johnson.

But the ex-chancellor said he "definitely" still has a "shot" at winning, despite lagging behind Liz Truss in the polls, warning his rival’s tax-cutting plans could fan the flames of inflation.

Mr Sunak said he doesn't speak to his former boss anymore, after recently revealing that Mr Johnson won't return his calls or messages, adding: "I’ve reached out to him but understandably he’s not replied.

“That’s fair but it wasn’t just me, at the end of the day, 60 other members of the government all resigned as well.”

Mr Johnson has not declared who he supports in the race to replace him, but his most staunch allies have come out in favour of Ms Truss, who has continued to praise the outgoing PM as a leader.

Mr Sunak appeared to take a swipe at his rival during the interview as he outlined his vision for the economy, saying he'd "rather lose" than "say things that can't be delivered".

"I haven’t made my life easy, saying things maybe some people don’t want to hear," he admitted.

“It should be about under-promising and over-delivering, that’s how you restore trust in government and politics,” he added. “We’ve probably not had enough of that.

“That’s why in this leadership race I’ve not been making lots of easy promises that I think are false, I’d rather lose than say things I don’t think can be delivered, I’d rather be honest with people.”

'It should be about under-promising and over-delivering'

Mr Sunak claimed Labour’s proposal to freeze energy costs, partly to be paid for by a new windfall tax on oil and gas giants’ soaring profits, would be a “very blunt instrument”.

He argued it would provide “a lot of support for people who don’t need it”, but his warning that borrowing during high inflation would be “really risky” appeared to be an attack on Ms Truss.

“If the government embarks on a spree of just borrowing tens and tens and tens of billions of pounds, that means inflation could get worse,” Mr Sunak said.

“It’s like putting fuel on the fire and that’s the mistake we made in the 70s, I don’t want to repeat that mistake and I’d be really worried about plans that suggest that’s the right thing to do.”

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