In the dying days of Boris Johnson’s government last July the former prime minister mounted an extraordinary reshuffle in an attempt to save his career.

The sudden resignation of Rishi Sunak as chancellor had opened up a vacancy. Nadhim Zahawi, the then education secretary, was called to a meeting in the cabinet room in No 10 and asked by Johnson: “Would you like the job?”

Zahawi, who was visibly nervous, told Johnson he would love it. He said he would come up with a growth plan within a week and a post-pandemic manifesto, making clear that he did not want the corporation tax rise to go ahead as he did so.

Appointment all but made, Zahawi was ushered into an adjacent office for a meeting

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