Chancellor Philip Hammond today slapped down Boris Johnson for demanding a £5 billion cash injection for the National Health Service.
In a curt put-down, the Treasury chief made clear he thought the Foreign Secretary was guilty of straying beyond his turf.
Arriving at a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels, he said: “Mr Johnson is the Foreign Secretary. I gave the Health Secretary an extra £6 billion at the recent Budget and we will look at departmental allocations again at the spending review when that takes place.”
The dispute burst into the open after allies of Mr Johnson revealed he intended to use today’s Cabinet meeting to call for an extra £100 million a week for the NHS.
His intervention was trailed in newspaper reports quoting allies boasting he had a “track record of winning” and would “not relent”.
Friends of Mr Johnson denied he was intervening simply to try to honour the promise of more NHS cash made by Brexiters in the 2016 referendum.
One said: “It’s not about the referendum. It’s about making sure that Jeremy Corbyn does not get the keys to No 10.”
It was not clear how Theresa May would respond when her Foreign Secretary tries to raise the matter.
Sources close to her were silent ahead of the meeting. Mr Johnson was expected to put his hand up after either an update by Jeremy Hunt on the winter beds crisis, or near the end of Cabinet when the Premier asks if there is anything else ministers wish to raise.
Asked if he had put the Foreign Secretary in his place, sources close to the Chancellor said the remarks were merely “two statements of fact”.
Mrs May’s ex-chief of staff Nick Timothy said: “Breaching collective responsibility and leaking Cabinet discussions are bad enough but part of political life. But pre-briefing your disagreement with Government policy ahead of Cabinet?” However, senior Tory MP Robert Halfon tweeted: “Good one Bojo — good to campaign for: An umbilical chord between GB public and #NHS. Just right thing to do.”
Mr Johnson called for the NHS to be “at the very top of the list” for funds when the UK “takes back control” of money it would have sent to Brussels.
But the Brexit campaign’s claim that £350 million a week could be freed for the NHS by leaving the EU has been widely debunked.
Official statistician Sir David Norgrove said Mr Johnson was “confusing gross and net contributions”. In the Budget, Mr Hammond committed £2.8 billion extra to the NHS in England along with £3.5 billion of capital funding.
Four former ministers — Nick Boles, Grant Shapps, Ed Vaizey and Sir Nicholas Soames — have called for more vision from Mrs May’s government in the past few days.