Boris Johnson has denied he was discussing whether to run to be Conservative leader with Sir Michael Fallon, a key Cabinet ally of Theresa May over a pint in a Kent pub.
Mr Johnson, the Foreign secretary, was spotted having a drink with Sir Michael, the Defence secretary, at the Bricklayers’ Arms in Chipstead, Kent on Saturday evening.
The meeting on Saturday came as speculation swirled around the Prime Minister’s chances of continuing as Tory leader after she failed to win a majority at the general election and criticism for her handling of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.
The pair chatted with locals in the bar just after 6pm before heading outside to the village green where the pair sat on a bench, deep in conversation overlooking a lake.
One onlooker told The Daily Telegraph: “They had pints in hand and talked to locals at the bar. It was pretty jovial – they were discussing cricket in the pub.”
The onlooker said they then went outside at 6.30pm for about 45 minutes on their own where they chatted after slinging their jackets over the back of a park bench.
Mr Johnson and Sir Michael were challenged by drinkers about what they had discussed when they returned. They both insisted they were discussing the constituency.
Chipstead is in Sir Michael’s Sevenoaks constituency, while Chevening, Mr Johnson’s official residence as Foreign Secretary, is just five minutes’ drive away.
One friend of Mr Johnson insisted the pair had not discussed him running to be leader. He said: “It was nothing to do with leadership.
“Boris Johnson regularly sees Michael when he is staying at Chevening. Michael is the MP for Sevenoaks and lives five minutes from Chevening.
“They had a catch up over a pint as they have done on many occasions.”
Sir Michael’s aide did not return a request for comment.
Last week George Osborne, Mr Johnson’s former Cabinet colleague, said Mr Johnson is "in a permanent leadership campaign”.
Mr Johnson pulled out of running for the Tory leadership against Theresa May last summer when his friend and colleague Michael Gove withdrew his backing.
A source close to Sir Michael said there was "no great mystery, they were having a pint at their local".
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