LONDON — Theresa May has warned senior members of her government that “no minister is unsackable” as she struggles to regain her authority over warring Cabinet members.
Conservative backbenchers have been pushing the prime minister to sack those members of her team behind a series of embarrassing leaked conversations from private Cabinet meetings.
The briefings, which were largely targeted at the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, were briefed to newspapers in what appears to be the first stages of a battle to succeed May as PM.
May said on Wednesday that she would not hesitate to sack even senior members of her government if the leaks continued.
“Well look, there is… there is no such thing as an ‘unsackable’ Minister,” she told LBC’s Iain Dale.
“But at the moment, the team is together and we’re getting on with the job of delivering what we want; what we believe that the British people want us to do.”
May’s latest comments follow a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday in which she told ministers that the internecine warfare playing out in the press over that past week was distracting them from their duties.
“The Prime Minister said the briefings and counter-briefings over the weekend had been a case of colleagues not taking their responsibilities seriously,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman said.
They added that “she said the Government would make better decisions if colleagues were able to hold open discussions, but it was vital that discussions in Cabinet must remain private.”
The intervention followed a series of leaks about comments made by the Chancellor Philip Hammond at recent Cabinet meetings.
Reports that Hammond had claimed that public sector workers were “overpaid” were briefed to newspapers at the weekend by multiple members of the cabinet.
The leaks followed claims that Hammond had told the Cabinet that driving trains is now so easy “that even a woman can do it”.
Other reports quote Brexit-supporting ministers accusing Hammond of trying to “f***” Brexit.
In turn allies of Hammond accused the foreign secretary Boris Johnson and the Environment Secretary Michael Gove of being “dangerous and deranged” in their drive for a ‘Hard Brexit’.