Boris is back! Ex-PM lands after BA flight home from Caribbean in race for Number 10
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has landed after a BA flight home from the Caribbean with his wife Carrie and their children in a race for Number 10 as he says he is ‘up for it’ — while Liz Truss, Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch ‘consider backing him to unite right’.
Senior Tories are trying to broker a face-to-face meeting between Mr Johnson and Rishi Sunak in a bid to end the bloodletting engulfing the party and create a ‘dream ticket’, as the former Prime Minister ended his holiday in the Dominican Republic and flew back to London Gatwick on an overnight flight.
Mr Johnson is understood to be willing to meet his estranged former chancellor in the hope of burying the hatchet and thrashing out a deal to govern together.
With the battle to succeed Liz Truss fast becoming a two-horse race, a deal between the pair could end the contest immediately, and may offer the best hope of healing the bitter divisions in Tory ranks.
There is speculation among backers of the old Downing Street neighbours that they could strike a deal to stand together, but this seems unlikely given how far apart the two are on key issues and how much they both want the top job.
Outgoing Prime Minister Truss, backed by Johnson for the top job, is said to be preparing to support him in a return to Downing Street.
Kemi Badenoch is also reported to be moving to back Johnson, as is former Home Secretary Suella Braverman. An endorsement from both could help to solidify the support of the party’s right wing behind him.
But there are concerns that some centrist MPs could resign the Tory whip or even defect in protest as they regard him as unacceptable to lead. That could open the door for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to force a snap election and trigger a Conservative wipeout.
A staggering poll today shows the Tories 39 points behind Labour, at their lowest ever rating.
Former Cabinet minister David Gauke suggested Sir Keir should offer not to run candidates against Tory MPs who are willing to join a no-confidence vote.
It comes as Rishi Sunak is believed to have become the first to secure the backing of 100 MPs, shoring up sufficient support to be on the ballot for Monday’s leadership vote.
Latest figures from Conservative Home put Mr Sunak at 100 backers, Mr Johnson at 51 and Ms Mordaunt at 22.
There is speculation among backers of the old Downing Street neighbours that Mr Sunak and Mr Johnson could strike a deal to stand together, but this would need them both to bury a lot of rancour.
As Mr Johnson flew home from holiday in the Caribbean, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was among the senior figures lined up behind his shock return – just six weeks after he was ousted from power amid a flood of resignations over Partygate and sleaze.
A Boris Johnson-supporting MP said the former prime minister told him he is ‘up for it’ and would fly back to the UK from his Caribbean holiday to stand in the Tory leadership contest.
Sir James Duddridge said: ‘I’ve been in contact with the boss via WhatsApp.
‘He’s going to fly back. He said, ‘I’m flying back, Dudders, we are going to do this. I’m up for it’.
As Mr Johnson boarded his flight home, he was met with a ‘mixed reaction’ from passengers, with some booing the former PM, a Sky News reporter on the flight said. He has since landed.
As the race for the keys to No10 heats up:
Penny Mordaunt became the first candidate to officially enter the race;
Mr Sunak was targeting a knockout blow in the contest by gathering so many supporters that rivals have to drop out;
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will warn Britain’s new prime minister that they need to squeeze defence spending and axe a prison building programme to help balance the books;
Bitter opponents of Mr Johnson warned they could resign the Tory whip and force by-elections if he wins, plunging the party into more chaos;
Former Tory leader William Hague said bringing back Mr Johnson was the worst idea he’d heard in 46 years as a party member;
Allies of Mr Johnson said Tory MPs could cancel Parliament’s controversial Partygate probe into his conduct if he returns as prime minister;
Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch and former home secretary Suella Braverman were under pressure to pull out of the race after receiving no public nominations;
A new poll put support for the Conservatives on a record low of 14 per cent – 39 points behind Labour;
In a sign of the rancour in the party, veteran MP Sir Christopher Chope branded colleagues who forced out Miss Truss ‘hyenas’.
Sky News photographed the ex-PM and wife Carrie Johnson on an overnight British Airways flight back from the Dominican Republic with their children
Dressed in a grey Worley Weingart t-shirt Mr Johnson, 58, smiled and posed with his trademark thumbs up, as he sat next to wife Carrie with a group of friends, including adviser Henry Newman (right) on holiday in Greece in August
Boris Johnson’s BA flight from the Dominican Republic landed at Gatwick Airport on Saturday morning. It was the most tracked in the world at one point, with more the 4,000 people watching
Boris Johnson’s plane took off from the Dominican Republic on Friday and stopped via Antigua (pictured) on its way to the UK
Mr Johnson (pictured) is said to be willing to meet Sunak in the hope of burying the hatchet and thrashing out a deal to govern together
Rishi Sunak is believed to have secured the backing of 100 MPs, shoring up support to be on the ballot. Pictured at his London home on Saturday morning
One senior Tory source, said regarding the reunion of Johnson and Sunak: ‘It is something that has got to be tried. The party as it stands is fractured – it is incumbent on the two greatest talents in the party to see if it can be healed’
Outgoing Prime Minister Liz Truss was seen leaving Downing Street today following her resignation yesterday
On Friday current Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt (pictured) became the first candidate to officially enter the race to become the Conservative Party Leader
Tory leadership race timeline
Monday: Nominations for the race close, candidates making it through must have at least 100 Tory MPs backing them
Monday 3.30 pm: First round of voting (if more than one candidate gets through)
Monday 6pm: Result of first vote announced. If three make it through, the candidate with the fewest votes is be knocked out
Monday 6.30pm: ‘Indicative’ ballot held if two candidates are left, one may drop out
Tuesday-Friday: If two candidates make it through, Conservative Party members have the chance to vote online
Friday: The final vote closes and Britain’s new Prime Minister is announced
The former PM, who was seen boarding a BA flight back to the UK with his wife Carrie, 34, plus children Wilfred, two and baby Romy yesterday, has told an ally that he will run in the leadership contest.
Sky News reporter Mark Stone said that passengers on the flight looked ‘slightly bewildered’ to see the former PM.
While they boarded the plane at Punta Cana International Airport separate from the public, the family sat in economy, the former PM in seat 34K.
‘Mr Johnson is sitting in economy, quite near the back of the plane, with his wife and children – one of his children climbing on top of him,’ Mr Stone said.
‘He’s in a suit, his head forward, deep in thought, but moments before that one of his children was climbing on top of him – a family coming back from their holidays.’
The former PM’s plane landed at Gatwick Airport on Saturday at 10.18am from the Dominican Republic, following a planned stop in Antigua.
His was the most tracked in the world at one point, with more the 7,000 people watching for the former premier’s arrival.
His travels follow two trips in August, when the then outgoing PM holidayed with Carrie for a belayed honeymoon in Slovenia, and then took a trip to Greece for a family holiday near Horto where his father Stanley has a house.
Following his resignation, Mr Johnson set up a company to channel millions in earnings that he could generate on the lucrative speaking circuit.
Earlier this month, he registered the company The Office of Boris Johnson Limited with Companies House.
The ex Premier, who stood down last month, had been predicted to earn around £5million a year after quitting Downing Street.
However Mr Johnson is said to have his eyes on No 10 again, as cabinet ministers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Simon Clarke also pledge their votes, while allies claimed MPs were ‘in tears’ in the Commons tea room as they realised his return is ‘almost unstoppable’.
Mr Johnson has been personally calling to woo colleagues and assuring them he will definitely be a candidate, and allies have been offering assurances that Jeremy Hunt will not be sacked as Chancellor.
Meanwhile, Stanley Johnson said it could be his son’s ‘moment’ to make a comeback in the wake of the humiliating resignation by Liz Truss.
Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and MP Andrew Stephenson said that Boris Johnson is ‘a tried and tested leader’ and it is time that the is back in power.
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘It will be the challenge for whoever is leader of the party to unite the party. I think it is important that all MPs respect the result of this election and unite behind our new leader.
‘I think what we have seen in the last few days is some of the MPs who resigned and called for Boris to go at the start of the summer have now said they would like to see him put himself forward. They’ve admitted they were wrong. I know that many others are waiting for him to make a decision before they go public.’
He told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I visited 80 different constituencies I attended all of the hustings, met thousands of party members, and a lot of them were saying to me “we want Boris on the ballot”. Now, constitutionally that couldn’t have happened, Boris had resigned, it was a contest between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. But there was a huge amount of support from party members still for Boris and they were quite upset that parliamentarians had got rid of him.
‘I am one of a number of MPs urging him now to put his name forward to think about putting his name forward, because he’s popular with party members, but also I think he’s got the big judgment calls right.
‘Not only did he deliver us that historic victory in the 2019 general election, but getting Brexit done, in delivering the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe, in standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies in Ukraine.’
Ms Johnson’s supporters have been boasting he could end up with more than 140 nominations, easily passing the 100 threshold needed to make the ballot on Monday afternoon.
However, as infighting in the party intensified critics swiped that his fans are noisy rather than numerous, predicting he will fall short of the numbers – while Mr Sunak is already well on his way to cresting that total. A Rishi camp MP said there was ‘limited scope’ for Mr Johnson because the pool is ‘mostly his old guard and Red Wall who are inexperienced and petrified’.
Another Sunakite suggested that Mr Johnson’s campaign is stalling and he will not run if he only gets 105 nominations because he is ‘thin-skinned’ and ‘only plays games he knows he can win’.
‘He wants to be Frank Sinatra doing a comeback tour and all the theatres are sold out. He won’t do it if they are half-empty,’ the MP jibed.
Mr Johnson returning would be a ‘Bobby in the shower moment’, according to a Tory source horrified at the prospect. ‘They are expecting the Tory Party to wake up and say Boris, thank God it was a dream.’
Former Tory leader William Hague, a supporter of Mr Sunak, claimed Mr Johnson returning as leader would send the Conservatives into a ‘death spiral’.
‘Him returning is the ‘solution’?,’ Lord Hague told Times Radio. ‘That would be going round in circles and that could become a death spiral of the Conservative Party.
‘And I think it’s possibly the worst idea I’ve heard of in the 46 years I’ve been a member of the Conservative Party.’
Boris Johnson must be thinking about whether it is ‘appropriate’ he should enter the leadership contest as he still faces a Privilege Committee investigation on ‘partygate’, according to Conservative MP Dame Maria Miller.
She told BBC Breakfast that ‘I certainly think that Boris Johnson would be thinking very long and hard as to whether it would be appropriate to put himself forward to lead our country at a time where … he is still subject to a very serious Privileges Committee investigation which could ultimately lead to him having to resign as minister.
‘I am sure he, who has put our country first in his life even when he was sick and in hospital during the pandemic would not want to jeopardise the stability of our country, again that is why I am supporting Penny Mordaunt because I think she brings that stability.
‘She can reach out to people who really need to have knowledge that they have got somebody in 10 Downing Street who really understands the struggles or ordinary people in this country.’
Chris Bryant, a Labour MP for Rhondda and chairman of the Commons Committee on Standards, said that he believes the public want a general election to ‘press the reset button.’
Mr Bryant was part of the cross-party Privileges Committee which is currently investigating whether Boris Johnson deliberately misled Parliament about the parties held in Number 10. However, he withdrew himself from the committee’s inquiry as he had already publicly condemned Mr Johnson’s behaviour.
When asked about his opinion of Mr Johnson returning to high office, he said: ‘He’s disgraced. I mean, look, I’m a Labour MP, I don’t fancy any of the three of them. I think we’ve got to a stage now where the people of this country think the only way you can press the reset button is to have a general election.
‘Penny Mordaunt voted in Cabinet or allowed in Cabinet, never said a word in Cabinet against the whole of the mini-budget that led to the economic crash that we’ve had.
‘Rishi Sunak backs Boris Johnson all the way up until the very last moment, despite all the lies and of course was himself involved in ‘partygate’ and Boris Johnson is a disgraced prime minister. The biggest problem for Boris if he does get elected as leader, apart from I suspect that quite a few Conservative MPs will either cross the floor or abandon support for him.
Boris Johnson has been on holiday in the Dominican Republic but is returning ahead of the Conservative leadership contest
Dozens of Conservative MPs are backing Johnson’s return to No 10 despite his resignation just weeks ago
Senior Tory members are urging the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson to meet face-to-face with estranged former Chancellor Rishi Sunak to join forces to win the leadership contest and ‘heal’ the party
‘Frankly, as I think William Hague said, he’s unfit for office. His biggest problem is, he will be spending probably the first two months of his of his second premiership, entirely focused on the privileges inquiry, and may, at the end of it, be found to have been in contempt of Parliament, suspended from the House of Commons and potentially facing a by-election in a seat which he would lose.’
Former Conservative foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind said reinstating Boris Johnson as prime minister would be the ‘worst example’ of putting the Tory party’s interest ahead of the public interest.
He added: ‘Given that the vast majority of the public, including many Conservatives, are struggling with a cost-of-living increases that we’re all seeing and the problems of the economy, the prime minister must be somebody who’s economically coherent, who understands the economy, who has shown that he does understand it, and that he will be able to work closely with the chancellor in restoring our economic strength.
‘Now, in the case of Johnson, I’m afraid it’s not this. This is not a theoretical question. He was prime minister for two or three years, he showed no interest, never mind leadership on economic policy.’
He added that he is backing former chancellor Rishi Sunak because he is ‘by far the best’ of the contenders available.
The in-tray of agonies for the next PM
The in-tray awaiting the next PM is loaded with problems – and whoever takes on the daunting task must do so while piecing together a bitterly divided party. Here, CHRIS BROOKE looks at the challenges ahead.
TAX AND SPEND
After racking up a £400billion bill during the pandemic and with rising interest rates sending borrowing costs even higher, the Government faces the nightmare task of trying to balance its books.
How can the Tories raise sufficient tax revenue and control spending while boosting growth in the economy to show there is a road out of the debt quagmire the nation’s finances appear stuck in?
With warnings of winter blackouts, simply keeping the lights on will be an achievement. Even with government help, millions will struggle to pay their energy bills – and with the prospect of prices going even higher in April, the PM must work out what support to give when the energy price guarantee ends in spring. Energy costs are also putting a massive strain on businesses.
The health service appears stuck in a never-ending crisis.
There are seven million people on waiting lists, constant difficulties seeing a GP, problems with ambulance response times and a crisis in maternity care. Many more doctors and nurses are needed and many believe major reform of the NHS is the only solution. But with two years until the next election there is no time to implement major structural change.
With Vladimir Putin increasingly cornered, fears are growing that there could be a nuclear escalation in the Ukraine war. Helping Ukraine to victory requires ever-increasing support from the UK and its Nato allies at no little cost.
The Tory faithful have long demanded a clampdown on the flood of cross-Channel illegal immigrants but so far no solution has been found and the Rwanda removals scheme remains stuck in the courts.
At the same time, some sectors of the economy want more immigrants to stimulate growth, meaning the new PM faces another difficult balancing act.
BREXIT & NORTHERN IRELAND
Brexit might be done but making it work remains a big problem. Talks to find a compromise solution to the Northern Ireland protocol – designed to prevent a trade border with the Irish Republic by effectively keeping the Province in the EU’s single market for goods – are at a delicate stage. A decision on whether to trigger Article 16 emergency measures that could start an EU trade war may need to be made.
POLLS AND PARTY UNITY
With the Tories trailing up to 39 points behind Labour in the polls, the new PM will be anxious to avoid being forced into an early General Election.
That means the next premier must somehow hold together a party that is split apart by factions. Conservative unity has been an impossible goal since the Brexit referendum but must somehow be achieved to avoid an election wipeout in two years’ time.
Mr Rees-Mogg’s market prediction was contrary to that of some economists, with the head of currency strategy at Rabobank, Jane Foley, telling the Financial Times Mr Johnson’s time in office had been characterised by ‘a lack of leadership from a government very distracted by one scandal after another’, and ‘the chance that that could come back is not going to be welcomed by markets’.
Analysts at Berenberg Bank said there were greater market risks from a Johnson government, with FT reporting the bank told its clients: ‘Given that a majority of Conservative MPs probably do not want Johnson as their leader, the prospects of mass resignations and a further descent into chaos would loom large.’
The trio of Mr Johnson, Mr Sunak and Ms Mordaunt look best-placed to hit the high threshold of 100 nominations from the 357 MPs needed to feature on the Tory leadership ballot. But it is possible only one or two will make the numbers by the Monday 2pm deadline.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Saturday morning, Dominic Raab said that he expects Mr Sunak to announce he is running ‘shortly, soon’.
He said the case for Mr Sunak as PM has ‘grown and strengthened’, adding that ‘he is best placed to restore confidence’ and trust.
‘Rishi had the right plan in the summer and I think it is the right plan now,’ he said.
‘I think he is the best placed candidate to provide some stability, to provide confidence for the millions of workers and businesses up and down the country – but I also think he is the right candidate to bring the party together with a government of all of the talents to just relentlessly deliver for the British people whether it is on the cost of living, crime, schools or NHS.’
He added that while he would love to see Mr Johnson return to ‘front line politics’, he said that the former premier would not be suited for PM in this leadership race.
Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘We cannot go backwards. We can’t have another episode of the Groundhog Day, of the soap opera, of Partygate. We must get the country and the government moving forward.’
In an acknowledgment that she has ground to make up on the top two, Ms Mordaunt became the first to declare formally this evening – saying Conservatives had been telling her they want a ‘fresh’ start.
The latest tallies suggest Mr Sunak has 72 backers, while Mr Johnson is on 38 and Ms Mordaunt on 18. The former chancellor unveiled Sajid Javid, George Eustice, Chris Philp, Gavin Williamson and Liam Fox as his latest additions this afternoon.
Although Mr Johnson is still returning from the Dominican Republic, he has told allies he is definitely running.
Interest costs on the £2.4trillion debt mountain hit a September record, as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt scrambles to put together £40billion of spending cuts for a Halloween Budget.
Friends of Mr Johnson told MailOnline that Mr Hunt staying as Chancellor was ‘coded in’ if he becomes PM again. ‘He’d be absolutely bonkers to change Hunt,’ one said. ‘He has gone down well. Any change, even if it was to somebody more competent would just generate confusion.’
A senior Tory source said: ‘It is something that has got to be tried. The party as it stands is fractured – it is incumbent on the two greatest talents in the party to see if it can be healed.’ They added: ‘The question the Conservative Party needs to ask itself is whether it wants to win another general election. If it does, then it needs to come together now.’
A source close to bookies’ favourite Mr Sunak last night played down the prospect of peace talks, saying that although he was ‘willing to talk to all colleagues’, there were ‘no plans’ for a meeting with Mr Johnson. But another senior Tory said there were signs that both camps were eager to heal the rift that otherwise threatens to undermine whoever succeeds Miss Truss. ‘On balance, I think it [a meeting] will happen,’ the source said.
It came as Sky News photographed the ex-PM and wife Carrie Johnson on an overnight British Airways flight back from the Dominican Republic with their children and said the MP received ‘one or two boos’ as he boarded.
Influential Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, who was a key Sunak backer in the last leadership race, said he now wanted to see Mr Johnson as PM with Mr Sunak alongside him again as chancellor.
Both men enjoyed a surge in support yesterday that threatened to make it impossible for rival candidates to get enough nominations to get on the ballot paper.
In a significant intervention, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he was setting aside his own leadership chances – and suggested he would back Mr Johnson. He said it was important to think about ‘who could win the next election’ for the Conservatives.
Mr Johnson also received endorsements from five other Cabinet ministers, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke and Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
Writing in the Daily Mail today, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris describes Mr Johnson as the party’s ‘standout star’ who is best placed to ‘finish the job he started’.
Last night, Mr Johnson had the declared support of 43 MPs, although sources are confident he will get well over the 100 nominations needed to make the ballot paper on Monday.
Mr Sunak was out in front with backing from 83 MPs, including former chancellor Sajid Javid, who said it was ‘abundantly clear’ that he had the ‘values our party needs’ to ‘move on from the mistakes of the past’.
Mr Johnson is due to arrive back in the UK today following a holiday in the Caribbean. Although he has not formally confirmed his candidacy, former minister Sir James Duddridge revealed he had told him he was ‘up for it’.
Sir James said: ‘I’ve been in contact with the boss via WhatsApp. He’s going to fly back. He said, ‘I’m flying back, Dudders, we are going to do this. I’m up for it’.’
Allies of Mr Johnson suggested he would be willing to meet Mr Sunak as soon as this afternoon if the former chancellor agrees. The two men have not spoken since Mr Sunak quit the Cabinet in July, triggering Mr Johnson’s exit a few days later. The ‘backstabber’ narrative dogged Mr Sunak throughout the summer leadership campaign and is seen as one of the main reasons Tory members rejected him in favour of Miss Truss.
MPs on both sides of the Tory divide fear that neither man will be able to heal the deep divisions without the support of the other. Peterborough MP Paul Bristow said it was time to ‘put the band back together’.
He told the BBC: ‘Boris Johnson has a mandate from the members of the party and from the electorate. I’m sure my colleagues will reflect on that when they vote, and we can avoid a general election, we can go out and put this band back together, we can have political heavyweights around that Cabinet table and we can go on and win the next general election. I’m convinced of that.’
It remains unclear how any deal between the two leading contenders could work. Mr Sunak quit as chancellor in part because of differences over economic policy and it is difficult to see how he could take the role again.
Allies of Mr Johnson dismissed the suggestion he would consider a senior role such as home secretary in a Sunak administration.
Miss Truss’s abrupt resignation on Wednesday has triggered a breakneck race to succeed her.
Candidate need 100 nominations from Tory MPs by 2pm on Monday to make the ballot paper.
Tory MPs will vote that night to whittle down the field to two if necessary. If two candidates remain, Conservative Party members will be asked to decide the contest in an online vote, with the result revealed on Friday.
Miss Truss will stay in post as caretaker leader in the meantime, and could take part in a final session of Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.
Now Tory big beasts line up to back Boris Johnson: Ex-Prime Minister sees dramatic surge in support with six Cabinet ministers leading clamour for a comeback
By Jason Groves, Political Editor for the Daily Mail
Support for a Boris Johnson comeback surged yesterday as six Cabinet ministers threw their weight behind the former prime minister.
Writing in today’s Daily Mail, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said Mr Johnson was the ‘standout star’ to replace Liz Truss after she resigned.
It came after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said yesterday he was also ‘leaning towards’ backing Mr Johnson.
Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke and Cop26 president Alok Sharma also pledged their votes for the ex-PM.
Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan also backed a comeback.
She tweeted last night: ‘I have worked closely with Boris Johnson for many years. He can continue to deliver for the country and already has a mandate.’
She added that it was ‘time to bring back Boris’.
Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan backed a Johnson comeback. She Tweeted last night: ‘I have worked closely with Boris Johnson for many years. He can continue to deliver for the country and already has a mandate’
Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg Tweeted a graphic that read ‘I’m backing Boris’ alongside a ‘Boris or bust’ logo.
Cop26 president Alok Sharma is among Tory Cabinet ministers backing Boris Johnson
Mr Johnson went on a charm offensive yesterday, phoning MPs from the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean, where he has been on holiday, to shore up support for a leadership bid. He accepted mistakes had been made during his previous stint in No 10 and pledged ‘a different culture’ if he wins back the keys.
He was due to fly back to London overnight before weighing up whether to throw his hat in the ring for the Tory leadership.
Mr Heaton-Harris, Mr Johnson’s former chief whip, writes in the Mail today that ‘there is no politician more able to rise up to whatever challenge he faces’.
He added: ‘I would be the first to admit that my party has been through a turbulent time recently, but if he gets the call, I know Boris will finish the job he started and deliver on the promises he made to you in 2019.
‘At a time of economic and international uncertainty, we need a leader with a track record of delivering for the British people.
‘A leader who has the mandate of not only the Conservative Party membership, but also the country.
A leader Labour fear the most because of his ability to win.’
Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris Mr Johnson’s former chief whip, writes in the Mail today that ‘there is no politician more able to rise up to whatever challenge he faces’
Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Simon Clarke also pledged his allegiance to the former Prime Minister
Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris Mr Johnson’s former chief whip, writes in the Mail today that ‘there is no politician more able to rise up to whatever challenge he faces’
Mr Wallace said he was minded to support Mr Johnson because he would be the only candidate with a clear mandate from the public, having won the 2019 general election. He added: ‘This will be potentially our third prime minister since the general election of 2019.
‘That means we have to think about that legitimacy question that the public will be asking themselves, and also about who could win the next election – that’s obviously important for any political party at the time. So at the moment, I would lean towards Boris Johnson.’
In a joint statement with Ben Houchen, the Tory mayor of Tees Valley, Mr Clarke said: ‘Boris is the person we need to lead our country and our party.
‘He won the greatest election victory for years on a mandate to unite and level up the UK, and inspired millions of people who had never voted Conservative before to get behind a generous, optimistic vision of what Britain can be.
‘People who have felt left behind from governments of both colours want their prime minister to make a success of Brexit, control illegal immigration and invest in our communities.
‘That’s what Boris would do and it’s why he is so popular right across the Red Wall seats that will decide the next election.’
Mr Rees-Mogg reposted a graphic on Twitter saying ‘I’m backing Boris’ alongside a ‘Boris or bust’ logo.
Meanwhile, Mr Sharma tweeted: ‘I am backing Boris Johnson – he won a mandate from the electorate in 2019.
‘We need to get back to delivering on the Conservative manifesto we were elected on.’
It means the contest for the leadership is looking increasingly like a two-horse race between Mr Johnson and his former chancellor Rishi Sunak.
One tally yesterday afternoon had Mr Sunak on 80 MPs backing him, with Mr Johnson on 50 and Penny Mordaunt – the only Tory to announce officially that they are running so far – on 21.
Candidates must secure the backing of 100 MPs by Monday afternoon to make it on to the ballot paper.
But a YouGov poll yesterday found more than half of Britons (52 per cent) would be unhappy to see Mr Johnson return. Only 27 per cent would be happy to see a comeback.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11343205/Boris-Ex-PM-lands-BA-flight-home-Caribbean-race-Number-10.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Boris is back! Ex-PM lands after BA flight home from Caribbean in race for Number 10