Foreign Secretary James Cleverly repeatedly refused to back under-fire under-fire minister Nadhim Zahawi over his tax troubles.
Asked if Mr Zahawi should be sacked in an interview with Camilla Tominey on GB News, he said: “I don't think it would be right or proper for me to speculate or guess about any further details about his tax affairs.
“He has been a successful entrepreneur, building a company which has paid tax, employing people that have paid taxes, and he has himself paid tax and a considerable amount because he's been successful.
“The Prime Minister has been supportive of him…he has demonstrated, as I say, not just that he's been a very successful businessman, but we should remember he was the head of the vaccine Task Force.
Nadhim Zahawi is a former Chancellor of the Exchequer James Manning
“Appointments to the government in whatever capacity or for the Prime Minister is not for me- I'm not going to start play-acting being Prime Minister.
“The Prime Minister has appointed his Cabinet, it's for the Prime Minister to decide how long any of us stay in the role. Just to be clear, what I'm saying is I'm not going to play-act being Prime Minister.
“It is for the Prime Minister to decide whether I or anyone else remains in his cabinet.”
He also denied that announcements this week that the funding of regional “levelling up” projects were about winning the next general election, as two thirds of the money would be going to Conservative seats.
“It's worth remembering that the majority of constituencies in the country by definition are Conservative-held constituencies after the 2019 general election.
“A significant number of constituencies have for decades been economically struggling, some of the poor constituencies and some of the poor communities in this country.
“They turned to the Conservatives, because they had felt that for too long, particularly under Labour governments, they were ignored and overlooked.
“So it is absolutely right and proper that we rebalance how we distribute money around the country.”
James Cleverly slammed the Labour Party's tax policy Kirsty O'Connor
Asked about high taxes under the Tories, he said: “All of us would like to bring taxes down. The Prime Minister has said he would like to bring taxes down.
“We've got to do it at a point in time when it is right and for those who, for those people who are suffering under the delusion that a Labour government would bring taxes down, I think need to be reminded of what the lessons of history have taught us.
“All the Conservatives put taxes up when we have to, in order to make sure the economic situation is stable. Labour product taxes whenever they think they can get away with it.”