Boris Johnson arrives back in Britain to attempt rapid political comeback

  • Johnson was forced out of office earlier this year
  • Candidates for prime minister need 100 nominations from MPs
  • Sunak is the favorite of the bookies
  • The winner would be Britain’s fifth prime minister in six years

LONDON, Oct 22 (Reuters) – Boris Johnson arrived back in Britain on Saturday as he considers an audacious bid to win a second term as prime minister just weeks after being forced to resign, with some colleagues warning that his return could create more politics. chaos.

Potential candidates to replace Prime Minister Liz Truss, who dramatically resigned on Thursday after just six weeks in power, were embarking on a frantic weekend of lobbying to secure enough nominations to enter the leadership contest before the deadline of months.

Johnson, who was on holiday in the Caribbean when Truss resigned, has not commented publicly on an offer for his old job. He has received the support of dozens of Tory MPs, but must secure 100 nominations to be considered.

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Trade Minister James Duddridge said on Friday that Johnson had told him he was “ready”.

Johnson was booed by some passengers on the flight to Britain, according to a Sky News reporter on the flight that arrived in London on Saturday morning.

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Wearing a dark jacket and rucksack, Johnson waved to photographers at the capital’s Gatwick Airport before departing.

It would be a remarkable political resurrection for the former journalist and former London mayor, who left Downing Street shrouded in scandal but grumbling that his colleagues had “changed the rules halfway through the race” – a blow to Tory MPs who did not allow him to serve a full term.

Former Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt has become the first candidate to officially declare her intention to run to be the next leader of the Conservative Party, but Johnson and Rishi Sunak, once its finance minister, have led the way ahead of next week’s vote .

Sunak, who was runner-up to Truss in the previous leadership contest and has yet to formally declare his candidacy this time around, did not speak to reporters as he left his London home on Saturday.

The prospect of Johnson returning to power is a polarizing issue for many in the Conservative Party, which is deeply divided after ousting four prime ministers in six years.

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For some Tory MPs, Johnson is a vote-winner, able to appeal across the country not only through his celebrity but also through his brand of energetic optimism.

For others, he is a toxic figure and the question is whether he can convince the dozens of MPs who have abandoned him that he is now the person who can unite the party and turn around its floundering fortunes.


Former home minister Priti Patel announced her support for her former boss on Saturday, saying he has the “mandate to present us with the manifesto of choice and a proven track record of making the right decisions”.

But her colleague Andrew Bridgen said she would consider resigning from the caucus if Johnson returned and warned the Tories against developing a “cult of personality” around the former prime minister. Dominic Raab, a foreign secretary under Johnson, said the party risked going “backwards” if he returned.

Former Tory leader William Hague said on Friday that Johnson’s return was probably the worst idea he had heard in nearly half a century as a member of the party. He said it would lead to a “death spiral” for the Tories.

If Johnson can secure the necessary number of nominations, he is likely to face Sunak, who resigned as finance minister in July, claiming his former boss was unable to make tough decisions.

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Sunak is the first leadership candidate to reach the 100-nomination mark to enter the race before Monday’s deadline, according to media reports.

Johnson, who currently has about half the necessary support, is currently being investigated by parliament’s Privileges Committee to determine whether he lied to the House of Commons about parties breaking the deadlock. If ministers are found to have knowingly misled parliament, they are expected to resign.

The contest to become Britain’s fourth prime minister in four years has been sped up to last just one week. According to the rules, only three candidates will be able to reach the first round of parliamentary voting on Monday afternoon, with the last two being put to a vote by party members for a result by next Friday.

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Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Additional reporting by Henry Nicholls; Editing by Toby Chopra, Mike Harrison and Christina Fincher

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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