Conservative leadership candidate Nadhim Zahawi says he would have no qualms over giving Boris Johnson a cabinet role if gets elected.
The chancellor is among eleven runners and riders to have made it to the first vote, expected to take place today.
He insisted he remains loyal to Johnson, despite publicly urging him to stand down amid a flurry of ministerial resignations last week.
“Boris Johnson is a friend of mine for 30 years,” Zahawi told LBC on Wednesday. “If he wishes to serve in cabinet then I would certainly offer him a job.”
He added: “He has been probably the most consequential prime minister of his generation. He’s delivered Brexit.”
Danger of being humiliated
Zahawi explained why he called for Mr Johnson to go on Thursday, having accepted the role of chancellor only two days before.
He said he wanted to “put country first”, but realised on Wednesday “we couldn’t realistically have a functioning government”.
“I went to Boris Johnson [on Wednesday] and explained he was in danger of being humiliated, and I didn’t want to see him being put through that,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “He’s a friend of 30 years.”
He added: “The next morning. I felt the only thing I could do was write a letter to him, to remind of our conversation and ask him to do the right thing. And I think he did the right thing ultimately.”
BBC license fee
The chancellor also refused to rule out scrapping the BBC licence fee if he becomes PM.
“We have to review how the BBC is funded. We have to look at how it is sustainable in the future. We have to review everything. Nothing is off the table,” he said.
The licence fee will be frozen from 2022/2023 and then rise in line with CPI inflation for the following four years.
Writing in the corporation’s annual report for 2021/22, released on July 12, chief operating office Leigh Tavaziva said the BBC estimated that annual savings of £285 million will be required by 2027/28 to “mitigate the loss of inflationary increases to the licence fee over the next two years”.
The report also showed licence fee income had reached £3.8 billion, an increase of 1 per cent on the previous year.