LIZ Truss’s campaign team has split over whether it was right to promote a social media image of Rishi Sunak stabbing Boris Johnson in the back.

Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa Cofffey said Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries had been “made aware” of the upset she had caused with her actions at the weekend.

Ms Dorries was criticised yesterday for retweeting a doctored picture showing Mr Sunak as Brutus about to assassinate Boris Johnson’s Julius Caesar.

Opposition politicians and supporters of Mr Sunak called it misguided and “distasteful”, especially in light of the recent fatal stabbing of Tory MP Sir David Amess. 

Ms Dorries also used a Sunday newspaper article to accuse the former Chancellor of “planning a coup for a very long time” against the Prime Minister.

Last week a member of the audience at the first official Tory party leadership hustings accused Mr Sunak of stabbing Mr Johnson in the back.

Today one of Ms Truss’s other supporters distanced herself and the campaign from Ms Dorries’s now-deleted tweet, saying it was her choice not to post it, not the campaign’s

Ms Coffey told Times Radio this morning: “Well, I wouldn’t have done it. The Liz for Leader campaign certainly didn’t do it. 

“Nadine chose to do it. I’ve made her aware that many colleagues were upset by it.

“It’s for Nadine to decide how she runs her social media. But all I say is that I’m really here to focus on Liz rather than other news.”

Ms Coffey added: “I’m not going to go into individual conversations, but she recognised that other people would have been upset by some of this, but she’s very keen to make the case herself.

“And Nadine is a very special lady. She was full of life yesterday in her role as Culture Secretary, supporting the lionesses, too. But I’m really here to talk about Liz Truss.”

Mr Sunak was also asked about accusations he was a “backstabber” on BBC Radio 4 this morning, but said he would not comment specifically on “what others are choosing to say”.

He said: “I will tackle the broader claim that they (the accusations) relate to, because I do think there is a risk that people are looking at the last few months of the Government with slightly rose-tinted glasses about what it was really like.

“Because it wasn’t working as it should, and crucially the Government found itself on the wrong side of a very serious ethical issue, and, for me, also going down the wrong economic path, and that’s why in the end more than 60 MPs at the last count, I think, resigned from the Government, of which I, after a lot of deliberation and months of standing by the PM, was one of them.”

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Ms Dorries said she wanted to  “alert Tory members not to be taken in by appearances in the way that happened to many of us who served with the chancellor in Cabinet”.

Business minister Greg Hands described Ms Dorries’ actions as “distasteful” and “dangerous”, telling Sky News: “I’m sure Liz Truss would disown this kind of behaviour.

“I think this is appalling. Look, it’s not even a year since the stabbing of Sir David Amess at his Southend constituency surgery, so I think this is very, very bad taste, dangerous even”.

Mr Hands, who is backing Mr Sunak in the race for No 10, added: “I do find it distasteful.”

Welsh Secretary Sir Robert Buckland, another supporter of Mr Sunak, told BBC Radio Wales: “I think that sort of imagery and narrative is not just incendiary, it’s wrong.