Michael Gove has indicated he is unhappy with the prime minister staying in his post after a fresh wave of resignations in protest of Boris Johnson’s leadership, Sky News understands.
But Sky News’ deputy political editor Sam Coates said there are suggestions Mr Gove is weighing up going to see his boss to say his time is up.
And the Daily Mail is reporting the levelling up secretary has already made his visit to tell Mr Johnson to go.
Resignations began on Tuesday after Downing Street admitted Mr Johnson had known about allegations of inappropriate behaviour by disgraced MP Chris Pincher in 2019 before hiring him as deputy chief whip in February.
Ministers had been sent out to defend Mr Johnson and say he did not know about any “specific” allegations.
Mr Pincher resigned from the role last week after further allegations that he groped two men at a private club in London, and he was later suspended from the Conservative Party.
Former senior civil servant Lord McDonald revealed on Tuesday that the PM had been told in person of the 2019 allegations, despite what Downing Street was telling the press.
Less than 12 hours later, Mr Javid and Mr Sunak quit, prompting a flurry of more junior ministers saying they could no longer support Mr Johnson.
By Wednesday afternoon, more than 25 MPs – ranging from cabinet ministers to trade envoys – had resigned their posts and returned to the backbenches.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer attacked the PM over his handling of the scandal, reading out the accusations levelled at Mr Pincher as a “reminder to all those propping up this prime minister just how serious the situation is”.
In fiery exchanges at PMQs, the Labour leader said the list of resignations had left him with a “z list cast of nodding dogs” on his front bench, quipping that it was a case of “sinking ships fleeing the rat”.
Mr Johnson also faced damning criticism from his own party, with Gary Sambrook – an executive member of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, which could be instrumental in the PM’s future – saying he “constantly tries to deflect from the issue, always tries to blame other people for mistakes, and [there is] nothing left for him to do than take responsibility and resign”.
But Mr Johnson insisted: “The job of a prime minister in difficult circumstances when he has been handed a colossal mandate is to keep going, and that’s what I am going to do.”
The prime minister is currently facing a grilling from the Liaison Committee, a group made up of Commons’ select committee chairs, who are set to question him on integrity in politics.
But down the corridor, the 1922 executive is expected to meet at 4pm to discuss potential rule changes, which could lead to another confidence vote in their leader. The full committee will then gather at 5pm.
Speaking earlier, a Number 10 spokesman said Mr Johnson would fight any fresh vote of confidence in him by backbenchers, and he believed he still had the support of the majority of his MPs.