Sajid Javid has refused to rule out a pact with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party at the next election.
The chancellor refused to answer directly five times when quizzed the day before Boris Johnson is expected to launch his second bid to get parliament to back a snap poll.
He did insist the Conservative Party does not need electoral alliances.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson ruled out an electoral alliance during the Tory leadership race.
Speaking in the wake of Amber Rudd’s resignation, which has brought the government’s majority down to minus 45, Mr Javid said the country does need a general election now, despite the sad timing.
He was then asked repeatedly on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show to publicly rule out a pact with Brexit Party.
We don’t need an electoral alliance with anyone, Mr Javid said. We can stand on our own two feet, put our message across.
The picture our opponents are painting of us, of course they would paint a false picture. We are a proud centre-right, moderate, one-nation party.
There is nothing extremist about wanting to meet the will of the British people on a simple question which was ‘Do you want to leave the EU or not?’
We are not in an election yet. I am clear we do not need an alliance with anyone.
Mr Johnson said in July that he did not think the Conservative Party should do deals with any other parties.
When pressed whether he could rule out a pact with the Brexit Party completely, he said: Yes. I rule it out.
But Mr Farage has piled pressure on the prime minister by saying he would stand down candidates against the Conservatives if Mr Johnson backs no-deal in an upcoming election.
He warned that if the prime minister fails to deliver Brexit on 31 October then he would die politically.