Rishi Sunak wrote a resignation statement on the day he was fined by police for breaking lockdown rules, but was persuaded to stay after an intervention from executives working for Rupert Murdoch.
On April 12 last year, Mr Sunak, then chancellor, was fined for attending a birthday party for Boris Johnson, then prime minister, who was also fined on the same day. The gathering broke Covid lockdown laws
A new book on the Conservatives’ long tenure in power by Ben Riley-Smith, the Telegraph’s political editor, reveals that Mr Sunak circulated the text of his proposed resignation to his allies, including some working for Mr Murdoch.
But he was dissuaded from resigning and remained in the role until July 5, when he resigned shortly after Sajid Javid announced his resignation. He was quickly followed by others, ultimately triggering the collapse of the Johnson administration.
According to Mr Johnson’s allies, Mr Murdoch became aware of Mr Sunak’s draft resignation statement and personally intervened to ensure he remained in office.
Mr Murdoch declined to comment. On Friday evening, a Downing Street spokesperson said Mr Sunak and Mr Murdoch had not spoken that day, but declined to comment on any other conversations that may have taken place.
It is understood that among those who discussed the potential resignation with Mr Sunak were Lord Hague and Lord Finkelstein. Both are columnists for The Times, which is owned by Mr. Murdoch.
The Telegraph also established that the former chancellor had discussed his resignation plans with Mas Siddiqui, an old friend and former colleague who is a director of Mr Murdoch’s News Corp in New York.
It is unclear whether any message of advice or support directly from Mr Murdoch to Mr Sunak was conveyed via a third party.