Details have emerged of a furious row between Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid following the sacking of one of the Chancellor’s closest advisers by the PM’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings.
Only five weeks after being appointed to the role by Mr Johnson, a “livid” Mr Javid is reported to have confronted the prime minister over Number 10 dictating spending policy and the sacking of Sonia Khan – a key member of his Treasury team.
It is claimed Mr Cummings suspected Ms Khan of involvement in the leaking of the Operation Yellowhammer no-deal dossier to The Sunday Times, a claim she strongly denies.
It has also been reported that she was escorted from 10 Downing Street by police after being fired by Mr Cummings and that her boss, Mr Javid, was not told about her dismissal.
A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “On Thursday, 29 August, a police officer stationed at the door of No 10 Downing Street escorted a woman from the front door to exit gates as she did not have a security pass at the time. This is standard practice if a visitor does not have a pass.”
Mr Javid has accused Downing Street of undermining his authority as he announced a relatively modest £400m cash boost for 16 to 19-year-olds’ education after Mr Johnson promised a massive £14bn extra spending on schools.
On Saturday, Mr Javid insisted his relationship with the PM is “fantastic”, but declined to comment on his view of Mr Cummings and dismissed the claim that Mr Cummings was running the Treasury as “nonsense”.
The row could not come at a worse time, just days before Mr Javid delivers his first major announcement as chancellor when he unveils the details of the autumn spending review to MPs next week.
A new opinion poll suggests Mr Johnson’s controversial gamble of suspending parliament has paid off, with an increase in the Tory lead over Labour and backing for the prime minister’s action.
But protests against the suspension of parliament that began within hours of Mr Johnson’s prorogation announcement on Wednesday are now about to spread across the country.
More than 80 demonstrations are planned by pro-Remain groups and by the left-wing pro-Jeremy Corbyn campaign group Momentum, which has called on its members to “occupy bridges and blockade roads”.
Mr Corbyn has been accused by Conservatives of “unleashing the mob” and “letting loose his Momentum anarchists” after writing to Labour MPs urging them to take part in the protests around the country.
But defending his rallying call, he said: “What I’ve done is suggest that people should attend and support demonstrations around the country and large numbers of MPs are attending demonstrations all over the country.
“We live in a democracy, freedom of speech is a watch word and we have freedom to demonstrate in a peaceful way.”
Momentum claims hundreds of thousands are expected to attend more than 80 demonstrations across country over the next week.
Protests are planned in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Dundee, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Leamington Spa, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Sheffield, Southampton, Swindon and York.
In London, crowds will gather from noon in front of the Downing Street gates, before moving along Whitehall and down to Parliament Square, and will be addressed by shadow chancellor John McDonnell and other MPs.
Ahead of the demonstrations, Mr McDonnell said: “Boris Johnson’s attempts to shut down democracy are being resisted by the people.
“Whether you voted for Remain or Leave, the people did not vote for a no deal for which there is no mandate.
“As elected Labour MPs across the country represent their constituents by joining in these protests, I urge other MPs to think of their constituents whose jobs and livelihoods will be put at risk in a no-deal Brexit.
“If Boris Johnson wants a mandate, then he should call a general election and put it to the people.”
Izzy Warren from one of the groups involved, the UK Student Climate Network, said: “We need a well-functioning parliament and strong democratic structures to successfully prevent irreversible climate breakdown.
“Shutting down parliament to force through political agendas is the antithesis to what is needed, and is exactly why young people are furious at the very same politicians failing to take the climate crisis seriously.
“We’re forever being ignored, left out of decision-making and have no input to policy. This is another move that reinforces our belief that our democracy doesn’t work in the interests of young people!”
Laura Parker, Momentum’s national coordinator, said: “We have a barely-elected millionaire prime minister who is happy to exploit a loophole in our flawed democracy to force through a Trump first, no-deal Brexit.
“He is part of the same tiny, privileged elite which has been hoarding power at the top and eroding our democracy for decades.
“There are thousands of people from all over the UK and across the political spectrum who will protest to stop Johnson close the doors on our democracy.
“No one voted for this, and it’s clear we need to urgently re-design our system to re-balance power away from the top.”
Defending his strategy, Mr Johnson said the 2016 referendum result must be honoured.
“Everybody can see what the risk is now,” he said.
“If we frustrate that mandate and stop the UK from leaving on 31 October it will do lasting damage to people’s trusts in politics.”
But some senior Tories, including the party’s respected number-cruncher and elections guru Lord Hayward, claim Mr Johnson’s actions could damage the Conservative Party.
“We could see people walking away in one direction or another,” said Lord Hayward.
“It’s not a process that I would approve of and I think there’s a fair number in different ways in the Lords and Commons who are not arch Remainers but don’t approve of what’s happening.”