Civil servants have turned on Sir Mark Sedwill, the Government's most senior official, after the resignation of an embattled mandarin over a series of rows with Priti Patel.
Officials claimed that Sir Mark, the Cabinet Secretary, had "gone native" having failed to publicly back Sir Philip Rutnam last week, after Boris Johnson declined to state that he had confidence in the Home Office's permanent secretary.
Yesterday Sir Philip announced his resignation in an extraordinary statement to the BBC, in which he said he had been the subject of a "vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign" by ministers.
The 54-year-old said he "did not believe" Ms Patel's denial of involvement in the "campaign" and disclosed that he was intending to sue the Government for constructive dismissal.
The announcement followed more than a week of reports about rows between Sir Philip and the Home Secretary, with allies of Ms Patel claiming that he had attempted to block announcements, thwart staff moves and undermine her in Cabinet.
Last week The Sunday Telegraph revealed that the mandarin was on a "s---list" of permanent secretaries Number 10 wanted replaced over claims that they are significantly at odds with Conservative ministers and advisers, who have been buoyed by Mr Johnson's landslide election win in December.
Allies of Sir Philip said a factor in his decision had been the refusal of Mr Johnson's official spokesman to endorse the Home Office mandarin on Monday despite saying the Prime Minister had "full confidence" in the Home Secretary. Asked to offer the same endorsement to Sir Philip, the spokesman simply said: "The Prime Minister has full confidence in the civil service."
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appA senior official said civil servants were concerned that Sir Mark had "gone native", having failed to issue his own public statement backing Sir Philip.
The official said: "Who is going to be next on the hit list? If you challenge ministers, as you are supposed to do as a civil servant or Permanent Secretary, who is the response going to be to [a subsequent] briefing war to try to get you out?
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app"I don't know if Mark is trying [to support civil servants] and not getting anywhere or whether he hasn't been trying."
In a statement issued after Sir Philip's resignation, Sir Mark said: “I have received and accepted with great regret the resignation of Sir Philip Rutnam. I thank him for his long and dedicated career of public service."
A friend of Sir Mark said: "He's criticised for not doing enough for ministers one week and judged to be too political the next. Sounds like he's actually striking the right balance. He's a genuine leader in an incredibly tough job."