Robert Jenrick asked about Boris Johnson's WhatsApps
Rishi Sunak has been accused of blocking the release of Boris Johnson’s WhatsApps as they could reveal a plot to bring him down.
Allies of the former prime minister claim the messages demanded by the Covid inquiry could show the then-Chancellor was moving to oust his boss, who was forced out of Downing Street last year.
One told the Mail on Sunday: “What is Rishi hiding? Is it plotting against Boris with Dominic Cummings?”
But Mr Sunak’s allies dismissed the claims as “total nonsense.”
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick also denied there are fears in No 10 the Prime Minister’s messages could show a plot against Mr Johnson.
Boris Johnson to hand over crucial unredacted WhatsApps to Covid inquiry[LATEST]
Mr Jenrick told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “No, as I say, the issue here is a simple legal one.”
The row comes as the Cabinet Office is gearing up for a legal showdown with the Covid inquiry over its request for Mr Johnson’s unredacted WhatsApps and notebooks.
The Government department has been trying to resist the publication of messages it argues are “unambiguously irrelevant”.
After the Government launched its legal battle, Mr Johnson wrote to the inquiry’s chairwoman, Baroness Hallett, saying he was sending all the unredacted WhatsApps he had given to the Cabinet Office.
He said he would like to do the same for the messages before May 2021 on an old phone he was told not to use after it emerged the number had been available online for 15 years.
Mr Johnson told the chairwoman he was “not willing to let my material become a test case for others when I am perfectly content for the inquiry to see it”.
But Cabinet Office lawyers have written to Mr Johnson warning he could lose public funding for legal advice if if he tries to “frustrate or undermine” the Government’s position on the inquiry.
The letter said: “The funding offer will cease to be available to you if you knowingly seek to frustrate or undermine, either through your own actions or the actions of others, the Government’s position in relation to the inquiry unless there is a clear and irreconcilable conflict of interest on a particular point at issue.”
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They added that funding would “only remain available” if he complied with conditions such as sending the Cabinet Office “any witness statement or exhibit which you intend to provide to the inquiry so that it can be security checked by appropriate officials”.
Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, a die-hard ally of Mr Johnson, said it was “not a good look for the Government”.
Tory donor Lord Cruddas, another backer of Mr Johnson, urged the MP not to be “held to ransom” by the threat.
He said: “Don’t worry Boris Johnson I can easily get your legal fees funded by supporters and crowdfunding, it’s easy.”
Downing Street has been contacted for comment.
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