Downing Street Insists Departments Work ‘Closely Together’ After Extraordinary Cabinet Clash

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak (Photo: Ian Forsyth via Getty Images)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak (Photo: Ian Forsyth via Getty Images)

Downing Street has waded into the extraordinary spat between the treasury and the business secretary over the energy crisis, insisting they work “very closely together”.

Asked if the PM had spoken to Sunak or Kwarteng over their “falling out”, his official spokesman replied: “It’s not how I would characterise it.

“I think you’re referring to an anonymous source quote.

“As you would expect, ministers from BEIS are working across government, including with the Treasury on this important issue, the challenges that are currently facing industry in light of global gas prices and that will continue.”

It comes after a treasury source accused business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng of “making things up” after he said he was in talks with chancellor Rishi Sunak about helping businesses struggling with high energy prices.

Asked to characterise the relationship between the two departments, the PM’s spokesman replied: “They continue to work very closely together as the public would expect, this is a significant challenge and there’s work across government to mitigate against it.”

Pressed on whether Kwarteng had been working with the treasury, he replied: “Yes, as you’d expect, treasury officials continue to work, are involved in this, as are officials across government.”

Asked whether Kwarteng was telling the truth and the source was making it up, the spokesman replied: “Again, I’m not getting into responding to anonymous source quotes, but you’ve got my response.”

Kwarteng made the comments amid warnings that some factories are just days from collapse because the large amounts of energy they need has become too expensive.

Kwarteng suggested he was discussing possible measures with the chancellor to alleviate the crisis.

But a treasury source hit back, telling Sky News: “This is not the first time the business, energy and industry secretary has made things up in interviews.

“To be crystal clear the treasury are not involved in any talks.”

Security minister Damian Hinds sought to play down splits between government departments this morning, denying that the business secretary had lied and blaming a spat between the treasury and business department on “unnamed sources”.

Asked if Kwarteng had been “telling porkies”, Hinds replied: “No, of course not.”

Pressed on LBC, he repeated: “I don’t think he [Kwarteng] is making things up.”

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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