BORIS Johnson ditched plans for a second national lockdown amid fears Rishi Sunak would quit.
The Chancellor had warned that the economic carnage it caused would make his job near impossible.
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Allies have credited him with single-handedly saving Britain from a brutal regime of curbs on freedom and movement.
Medical and scientific experts had demanded tough restrictions to halt a deadly second wave of coronavirus.
A senior MP said: “There were fears he would find it difficult to carry on if he was ignored.
“It was all down to the Chancellor that we avoided delivering a hammer blow to the economy and took a more balanced approach instead. Rishi saved the day.”
It has emerged that a “noisy majority” of experts were in favour of a shutdown barely 48 hours before Mr Johnson went on TV to address the nation about his next steps.
But Mr Sunak put up a powerful argument or keeping Britain open to protect millions of jobs and businesses.
Downing Street insisted neither the Chancellor nor any government advisers threatened to resign over the restrictions.
A source close to Mr Johnson said: “The Prime Minister listened to a full range of arguments before deciding the next course of action.
“He took a balanced approach, with maximum social measures to drive down the infection rate while having minimum impact on the economy.”
The PM faces a fresh battle this week as rebel MPs try to seize control of his emergency powers.
Tory backbenchers’ leader Sir Graham Brady has tabled a cross-party amendment that would give parliament a final say on any further Covid restrictions.
At least 60 rebel Conservatives will be joined by Labour, Scottish Nationalists and other smaller parties in a bid to defeat the government in a move which echoes the tactics of Remainer MPs during the Brexit crisis.
In a bid to quell the revolt, Mr Johnson has offered a vote next month on the continuation of the “rule of six” – but the rebels plan to press ahead.
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