Liz Truss supporters fear ex-Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove is plotting against the prime minister from the back seat after he was spotted having lunch with her leadership rival Kemi Badenoch at an exclusive restaurant in London’s West End.
Ms Badenoch, the international trade secretary, was viewed with suspicion by Truss supporters after witnessing a meal at Fortnum & Mason’s restaurant with Mr Gove earlier this month.
The former Leveling Up secretary backed Ms. Truss’ rival Rishi Sunak in the leadership contest, calling her tax policy a “vacation from reality” after it became clear that Mr Gove would be relegated to the back seat if she won.
Ex-Cabinet Minister Michael Gove (pictured) was seen having lunch with Kemi Badenoch earlier this month
International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch was viewed with suspicion by Truss supporters after she was seen having a meal at Fortnum & Mason’s restaurant with Mr Gove
Government sources claimed Ms Badenoch had urged Mr Gove to run for leadership, only acting herself when Mr Gove agreed to give her his public support.
He switched to Mr Sunak after she was eliminated from the race.
A source also claimed she insisted on getting Mr Gove’s former government driver after she was 21 minutes late for her first cabinet meeting. Sources close to Ms Badenoch have denied the claim.
A source said of the ‘Fortnum’s plot’: ‘Michael is always up to something, he can’t help it. Kemi mustn’t allow herself to become his puppet.’
Tory MPs sacked after supporting Rishi Sunak have vowed to go on strike over their treatment. They have warned that Ms Truss should not expect ‘supportive’ interventions on the Prime Minister’s questions.
They claimed there had been rumblings about the new government last week while parliament was suspended over the Queen’s death.
Several former ministers overlooked for their roles are planning to stay away from the party’s annual conference this year. Ms Truss chose to give supporters a key role rather than appoint figures to support Mr Sunak.
Supporters of new Prime Minister Liz Truss (pictured) worry about lunch between Mr Gove and Mrs Badenoch
The former chancellor was not offered a role in her cabinet, along with a number of leading figures who supported him, such as Dominic Raab and Mr Gove, who does not expect to return to politics on the front bench.
Friends of Mr Gove have suggested that the Prime Minister’s team is trying to undo its work.
Since Mrs. Truss has taken over, she has plans to overhaul the criminal justice system he championed as Attorney General.
A source close to Mr Gove dismissed the conspiracy claims: ‘The Prime Minister’s flunkies need to get a grip.
“With the pound collapsing and the economy headed for recession, they may want to focus on putting public finances in order. Gove is the least of their worries.’
Sources close to Ms Badenoch said: ‘These absurd claims cannot come from an ally of the Prime Minister, but from someone trying to undermine her and her colleagues by fomenting suspicion. People who plot do it in private or on the phone, not in a restaurant.
‘As a member of the cabinet of Liz Truss, Kemi is working on economic growth.’
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