Top Tories say Johnson’s return as PM would risk the death of the Tory Party | Boris Johnson


Senior Tories are engaged in a frantic campaign to stop Boris Johnson staging a dramatic return to Downing Street, saying it would cause further economic damage and risk ‘the end of the Conservative Party’.

Johnson’s team claimed on Saturday evening that he had privately secured the support of the 100 MPs needed to enter the race, while only 55 backed him in public. The claim was immediately disputed by MPs and rival leadership campaign sources. Johnson posted a picture of himself lobbying an MP on the phone, but his allies on Saturday night could not confirm he would officially enter the contest to win back the leadership he was stripped of just months ago.

In another day of major political drama in the race to succeed Liz Truss as prime minister, supporters of front-runner Rishi Sunak were trying to win support from MPs so overwhelming that Johnson would be forced to drop out.

They believe a final indicative vote among MPs overwhelmingly backing Sunak would send a message to members not to weigh them down with another leader they don’t support.

Former cabinet ministers backing Sunak have said a Johnson return would also disrupt financial markets, raising the risk of further sharp interest rate hikes by the Bank of England within days.

A former colleague in Johnson’s cabinet said desperate efforts were underway to rally support for Sunak, not least because he would symbolize stability in financial markets and reduce the risk of rising interest rates and mortgages.

Lord Frost has called on his party colleagues in the Commons to support Rishi Sunak. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

He said the medium-term budget plan due to be announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt on October 31 would be vital and should not be jeopardized by Johnson’s return.

“The question then will be whether Johnson puts his narcissism above the interests of the country,” a senior source said. “A big win for Sunak at this point will put pressure on Johnson.”

Kemi Badenoch, seen as a future leader, gave Sunak a big boost by supporting him.

Meanwhile, there were claims that a hardline group of a dozen MPs opposed to Johnson’s return would step down as whip if he took over. Other Tory MPs have said Johnson would struggle to pass legislation in parliament if he returns, given the strength of feelings against him.

A former minister said: “It would be the end for me. I know others who feel the same. The party has already left us behind. If Johnson came back, it would be impossible for me to continue.

Tory MP Roger Gale revealed on Saturday that he would step down as Tory Whip if Johnson becomes Prime Minister again. Another Tory MP said he would consider his place in the party if Johnson returned, warning it was the only result that risked a snap election and could mean ‘the end of the Tory party’ if MPs started to disagree. to separate.

Several curators have pointed out that the privileges committee investigation if Johnson misled MPs about Partygate, it was impossible to accept him as leader. Some said they would support an election rather than vote for any attempt to spare Johnson from the investigation.

A Commons source said the evidence and public testimony could “finish him off” politically, before the new year.

It was not just Tory MPs from the moderate and One Nation wings of the party who urged Johnson not to run. David Frost, a former Brexit minister and close Johnson ally, called on his party colleagues in the Commons to back Sunak. The A conservative peer tweeted: “Boris Johnson will always be a hero to deliver Brexit. But we have to move on. It’s just not right to risk repeating the chaos and confusion of last year. The Conservative Party must rally behind a leader capable who can deliver a conservative program.This is Rishi Sunak.

Ancient The telegraph of the day Editor Charles Moore, who is a friend of Johnson, also urged him not to run, saying it was too early to return and that Sunak had been right about the unfunded tax cuts. Moore urged Johnson to “sit on this one.”

Such is the speed and unpredictability of the contest that some MPs were predicting on Saturday night that Johnson might even end up endorsing Sunak, the man he actively helped block from leadership. However, there are fears that the party could descend further into war even if Sunak takes the helm.

On Saturday night Tory MPs were openly questioning the Johnson campaign’s claim that he had 100 supporters. Robert Syms, the Tory MP for Poole, said: ‘If Boris has 100 in the bag why is his campaign posting pictures of him begging for votes?

Meanwhile, the race’s third competitor, Penny Mordaunt, was also battling for public backers. His team said more supporters would be unveiled over the weekend. He also thinks she could benefit hugely if Johnson pulls out of the race early, as many of her supporters will be out to stop Sunak at all costs.

Johnson is still likely to win support from MPs in the pro-Brexit European Research Group, which meets Monday morning to discuss the leadership race. Senior group officials still predict Johnson could win the backing of the 100 MPs needed to formally enter the race.

The latest Opinium poll for the Observer put Labor at 50%, 27 points ahead of the Conservatives (who are down 3 points from a fortnight ago). The Conservatives are at 23%, the Liberal Democrats at 9% (down 2 points) and the Greens at 6%.

The poll shows the Tories have now lost many of the 2019 voters won when Johnson won a massive 80-seat majority. It reveals that 30% of Tory voters in the 2019 election had switched to Labour.

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