Watch: Nadhim Zahawi says he would give Boris Johnson Cabinet job if he became PM
Tory leadership hopeful Nadhim Zahawi has said he would give Boris Johnson a job in cabinet if he was to become prime minister.
The newly-appointed chancellor is one of eight Tories currently vying to move into Downing Street after Johnson resigned last week.
Zahawi told LBC radio: “Boris Johnson is a friend of mine of 30 years. If he wishes to serve in cabinet, I would certainly offer him a job.
“He has been probably the most consequential prime minister of his generation.
"He has delivered Brexit. He got us through a global pandemic."
Johnson has so far given no indication of his plans once he is replaced as prime minister, which will happen no later than 5 September under the rules of the Tory leadership election process.
His show of support comes less than a week after Zahawi urged the outgoing prime minister to “leave with dignity” when he turned his back on Johnson after less than 36 hours as chancellor.
Zahawi has drifted to become the rank outsider of the remaining candidates. He has made a number of promises if he was to get the top job, including cutting income tax while abolishing VAT and green levies on energy bills, along with the planned corporation tax increase.
He denied relying on the “magic money tree” to fund his pledges, estimated to be worth around £36bn, and claimed they were fully costed.
Speaking on Radio 4 about questions surrounding how it will be costed he said: "I’ve declared my leadership race for about… it’s been two, three days.
“This is a fully costed plan. You will see I demonstrated in every job I’ve had that I deliver, whether it’s vaccines, or the Department of Education.
“I will do the same thing: I will evidence it and you will see it and I will come on your programme and show it to you if I am prime minister.”
Ahead of the government’s response to public sector pay review body recommendations – expected next week – Zahawi warned public sector workers that they cannot expect inflationary pay awards.
“Inflation is the one thing that would hurt us. We have to make sure that it abates, and abates quickly,” he said.
“My message to all the public-sector workers – the brilliant public sector workers – is we have to be fair and disciplined.”
Tory MPs are currently in the process of deciding the two final candidates who will then be voted on by Conservative Party members.
As well as Zahawi, Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat, Kemi Badenoch, Penny Mordaunt, Jeremy Hunt, and Suella Braverman will all be on the ballot on Wednesday, after all secured the 20 nominations from fellow MPs needed to enter the contest.
The field was whittled down on Tuesday after Sajid Javid, Grant Shapps and Rehman Chishti failed to secure the backing of enough MPs.
The remaining candidates were grilled by fellow MPs in two sets of hustings on Wednesday evening organised by the Centre for Social Justice and Common Sense Group of Conservatives.
Meanwhile Truss, the foreign secretary, gained the endorsement of prominent Johnson loyalists Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nadine Dorries and James Cleverly, in what was seen as a concerted move to prevent Sunak entering No 10.
Watch: Eight candidates go forward into first round of voting in Tory leadership race
Many supporters of the prime minister remain furious with Sunak for the role he played in bringing him down, with his decision last week to quit helping to trigger a further slew of resignations.
The foreign secretary’s campaign also received a potential fillip with the announcement by home secretary Priti Patel, a fellow right winger, that she would not be standing, giving Truss a clearer run.
Dorries accused Sunak’s team of “dirty tricks” after claims that one of his supporters – ex-chief whip Gavin Williamson – had been trying to “syphon off” votes for Hunt so he would make it to the final run-off with Sunak.
The claim was denied by Hunt, who told LBC radio it was a “very dangerous game to play”.