George Osborne's leadership ambitions are 'dead in the water' - source

Posted On: 
20th March 2016
George Osborne’s leadership ambitions are “dead in the water”, according to Tory MPs close to Iain Duncan Smith who branded the Chancellor as “unfit to be PM”.

Ministers and Tory MPs were calling for the Prime Minister to sack his Chancellor after the mutual recriminations following Mr Duncan Smith’s resignation.

According to the Sunday Times, David Cameron launched a tirade at Mr Duncan Smith when he learned of the resignation, accusing him of behaving "dishonourably". The paper also claims the Prime Minister swore at Mr Duncan Smith, though Downing St denies that charge. ​

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Sources close to the former Tory leader suggested he would now try to stop Mr Osborne becoming Prime Minister. ​

A source close to Mr Duncan Smith said: “Iain will not be supporting George Osborne’s leadership ambitions and would hope that the Conservative party chooses someone else to lead it.”

The source said he was “thrilled” Boris Johnson was backing an EU exit as he has “great qualities”.

An MP close to Mr Duncan Smith said: “George is clearly unfit for the job”.

An ally of Mr Johnson said Mr Duncan Smith’s resignation would “kill” Mr Osborne.

“The resignation letter couldn’t be more pointed,” the source said. “It is saying he is literally not fit to wear the mantle.”

One minister compared the Chancellor to the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

“Osborne’s dead in the water even without the budget. George is like the Child Catcher. The IDS resignation just cements the idea in the public’s minds that George is unpopular, unfriendly and has not done a very good job.”

A Tory MP said : “The wrong person has resigned. If George Osborne had been as good a chancellor as IDS has been at the [work and pensions department] we wouldn’t have a deficit now.”

But sources close to Mr Osborne said he was “pretty relaxed” about the attacks.

Tory MP Stephen McPartland said: “I will not be shedding any tears for the evangelical, aggressive and routinely failing welfare reforms that were the personal fiefdom of the secretary of state for DWP.”

According to an ally of the Chancellor, Mr Osborne is considering not running for leader anyway.

The source said: “If he doesn’t think he can win, he will not run. He won’t put his family through all the extra scrutiny unless he’s confident.”