Public spat between Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak has reached the level of playground insult

Rishi Sunak when he served in Boris Johnson's Cabinet as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Credit: PA

"Rishi Sunak is talking rubbish"

The public spat between Boris Johnson and the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has reached the level of playground insult.

What seems to have annoyed the former prime minister so much is this uncharacteristically forthright comment from Rishi Sunak: "Boris Johnson asked me to do something that I wasn't prepared to do because I didn't think it was right... and if people don't like that, then tough."

Mr Sunak made the comment during a Q&A on the first day of London Tech Week, where he would have been hoping to speak predominantly about Artificial Intelligence.

His answer was in response to allegations made by Mr Johnson that he, and maybe others in Number 10, sought to intervene in who was on his resignation honours list.

Usually former prime ministers try to avoid looking like backseat drivers.

They keep their criticisms oblique or off the record (although John Major found it increasingly difficult to hide what he thought of Boris Johnson).

And, usually, the differences are about important issues like economic policy or foreign affairs. But this angry row is about whether or not Boris Johnson's supporters get peerages.

'Boris Johnson asked me to do something I wasn't prepared to do', insists Rishi Sunak

There are close to zero votes to be won by having this argument, but from Rishi Sunak's perspective there is one positive; it puts clear blue water between him and Boris Johnson.

It says the Conservative Party is doing things differently now. And Boris Johnson, in his anger, is helping to cement that impression.

The Partygate: The Inside Story podcast brings you fresh revelations and our whistleblowers in their own words in the definitive behind-closed-doors story of how ITV News uncovered one of the biggest scandals of our era...