Palace officials hatched a secret plan to tell Boris Johnson the Queen could not come to the phone if he tried to call an election, a new book has claimed.
Courtiers became concerned that the ex-Prime Minister could call a snap poll in a desperate bid to cling onto power.
Constitutional protocol allows the monarch to reject such a bid if another leader can form a functioning Government - but insiders were afraid that if the Queen refused the request then it would trigger a constitutional crisis.
A new book, entitled 'The Fall of Boris Johnson ' by Sebastian Payne, reveals that a “magic triangle” of the Queen’s private secretary Sir Edward Young, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, and Tory backbench chief Sir Graham Brady held crisis talks on how to respond if Mr Johnson tried to go to the country.
One senior Whitehall figure said: “It was a question that couldn’t be put to the Queen because the Queen would have to say ‘yes’. The PM cannot ask the question to which she ought to say ‘no’ by the convention.”
It was decided Buckingham Palace would refuse to allow Mr Johnson to speak to the monarch in an effort to stall him.
One Whitehall insider said: “If there was an effort to call an election, Tory MPs would have expected Brady to communicate to the Palace that we would be holding a vote of confidence in the very near future and that it might make sense for Her Majesty to be unavailable for a day.”
Another senior official said No10 would be politely told that the monarch “couldn’t come to the phone” if Mr Johnson asked for a call with the intention of dissolving parliament.
One Johnson ally said the scandal-hit PM knew at the time that the idea was doomed as “the Palace would have wanted to see if there were others who could command confidence instead of accepting his call”.
Sir Graham Brady would have been asked by the Palace if his party could decide on another leader who could command the confidence of MPs under the plan.
But the informal guidance was never tested as Mr Johnson decided not to call an election.
He clung onto power as his MPs deserted him, before finally announcing his resignation on July 7.
Mr Johnson travelled to Balmoral to inform the Queen he was standing down in September in favour of Liz Truss, only days before Her Majesty's death.
Doomed Ms Truss only managed 45 days in office before quitting after trashing the economy with her tax-slashing plans.
Mr Johnson jetted back to the UK from a Caribbean holiday to launch a leadership bid to rival Rishi Sunak but bottled it at the last minute after warnings he would split the Tory party.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment.