Cabinet turns on Boris Johnson over demand for NHS funding boost

Boris Johnson has been reprimanded by a "large number" of his Government colleagues after plotting a major intervention over NHS funding.

Ahead of a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, it had been briefed the Foreign Secretary was preparing to demand £5bn extra a year for hospitals from March next year.

Working out at £100m a week, the cash injection would allow the Foreign Secretary to show he is acting on his EU referendum claim that NHS spending could be raised once Britain leaves the EU.

However, during the Cabinet meeting, Downing Street revealed Mr Johnson's fellow ministers expressed disquiet at the news of his expected request.

"The Prime Minister and a large number of ministers made the point that Cabinet discussions should remain private," Theresa May's official spokesman said.

Most members of the Cabinet were said to have spoken in the meeting - in which Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt provided an update on the NHS winter crisis - but the spokesman added no minister "discussed any specific numbers relating to funding".

The Prime Minister was also said to have told her Cabinet any "Brexit dividend" from the UK leaving the EU would be spent on the Government's domestic priorities; housing, education, social care and the NHS.

Earlier, Philip Hammond offered a dismissal of Mr Johnson's pending demand.

The Chancellor pointedly reminded Mr Johnson he is the Foreign Secretary, without responsibility for health spending, as he arrived for a meeting of European finance ministers in Brussels on Tuesday.

"Mr Johnson is the Foreign Secretary," he said.

"I gave the Health Secretary an extra £6bn at the recent Budget and we'll look at departmental allocations again at the spending review when that takes place."

Mr Johnson's expected call for extra NHS spending also sparked anger within the wider Conservative Party.

Prominent backbench MP Anna Soubry claimed on Twitter the Prime Minister "should have sacked" her Foreign Secretary "for longstanding incompetence & disloyalty".

"Unless TM acts now Boris will bring her down," she wrote.

Mrs May's former chief of staff Nick Timothy posted: "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?"

Justice minister Dr Phillip Lee also hinted at frustration at Mr Johnson.

He wrote: "Have been asked many times to comment on today's 'news' that a minister might ask for more money for a third minister's dept.

"I've got lots to say - but now is not the time to say it. I'm getting on with my own job - as should others!"

Tuesday's Cabinet meeting followed publicly-stated concerns by Tory MPs, who backed Mr Johnson's aborted Tory leadership campaign in 2016, that Mrs May's Government is demonstrating a lack of ambition.