Boris Johnson was last night in negotiations with Rishi Sunak about a ‘unity’ leadership proposal, as a Mail on Sunday survey indicated that he would give the Conservatives the best chance of winning a general election.
According to sources for The Mail on Sunday, if the former prime minister returned to No. 10 with his former chancellor in a high position, it would prevent a contentious conflict.
Mr. Johnson’s negotiating position is bolstered by the fact that he would undoubtedly win any vote of Tory members.
In exchange for granting his former Chancellor a key position, Mr. Johnson would expect’strict loyalty,’ and if he did not obtain it, he would ‘leave Rishi to his own devices,’ according to a close associate.
In the meantime, a Deltapoll study conducted for this newspaper indicated that if a General Election were held today, Labour would have a 25-point lead and an astounding 320-vote majority.
But if Mr. Johnson became Prime Minister, Labour’s lead would be reduced to ten points, with a mere 26-point majority.
When people were asked how they would vote if Rishi Sunak were the leader, Labour held a 17% lead and a predicted 124-seat majority.
Penny Mordaunt, the current leader of the House of Commons, would be defeated by a 216-vote Labour majority. Mordaunt is having difficulty securing the support of enough members of parliament for her leadership campaign.
According to one admirer, the former prime minister, who returned yesterday after a vacation in the Caribbean, intends to establish “an alliance in the national interest.”
However, yesterday afternoon’s face-to-face meeting was postponed, with each party blaming the other for the delay.
The two men have been political adversaries since Mr. Sunak’s resignation in the summer contributed to Mr. Johnson’s downfall, and last night, allies of the former Chancellor questioned the Johnson camp’s claim that they had secured the support of the 100 Tory MPs required to secure a spot on the ballot.
They feel they were “bluffed” into “folding” prematurely. By yesterday evening, 127 MPs publicly supported Mr. Sunak, 53 MPs supported Mr. Johnson, and 23 MPs supported Ms. Mordaunt.
Johnson to follow in Churchill’s footsteps?
What better way for Boris Johnson, right, to follow in the footsteps of his hero Winston Churchill, left, than to become Prime Minister twice?
After winning the General Election in October 1951 – a month shy of his 77th birthday – Churchill stormed back into No. 10 and reclaimed his position as prime minister.
He viewed this win as retribution for 1945, when, despite having led Britain through its “Darkest Hour” to defeat Hitler, the Tory leader was deposed by Labour shortly after VE Day.
Churchill then led the Tories in opposition for six years, including a 1950 election loss.
In 1951, the Conservatives won 321 seats to Labour’s 295 as a result of Churchill’s campaign slogan, “We are for the ladder.” Let everyone make an effort to climb. Socialists favor the line. Each individual should remain seated until his turn arrives.
Churchill suffered two strokes, the first in 1952 and the second in 1953. Finally, and with great reluctance, he resigned in April 1955 at the age of eighty.
Mr. Sunak’s supporters believe that if he receives sufficient support from the MPs, Mr. Johnson will not feel he has the right to submit himself to a vote by the members.
International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch was the most recent member of Congress to endorse Mr. Sunak, calling him “the right candidate for the position.”
Former Home Secretary Priti Patel stated that she supported Mr. Johnson due to his “established track record.”
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and former Home Secretary Suella Braverman are also in Mr. Johnson’s side, although former No. 10 chief of staff Steve Barclay and former Brexit minister Lord Frost have publicly supported Mr. Sunak.
Former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted, “The boss is back” in reference to Mr. Johnson’s homecoming.
Ms. Dorries writes in today’s Mail on Sunday, ‘Only Boris is a proven winner. If Sunak is selected, I fear that we will enter unexplored and potentially perilous territory.
Stanley Johnson, the father of Mr. Johnson, predicted that his son would run for re-election, stating, “He believes there are still things to do,” despite lucrative post-premiership speaking opportunities. He said, “He is willing to give up those temptations in order to withstand the slings and arrows.”
Thursday, in response to Liz Truss’ resignation, Boris Johnson declared that he was “up for it.” After landing at Gatwick with his wife Carrie, he proceeded to Westminster’s Millbank Tower, a few yards from where Mr. Sunak was based, and began calling MPs, including those who have already publicly supported Mr. Sunak or Ms. Mordaunt.
Ms. Patel stated that under Mr. Johnson, the Conservatives earned their ‘largest mandate in a generation,’ adding in a statement: ‘Boris has a proven track record of making the right hard decisions, standing up for Ukraine and our values, and delivering on the people’s objectives.’
But Dominic Raab, who served as Mr. Johnson’s Deputy Prime Minister, stated that his former boss would be “distracted” by the Partygate investigation if he were to become Prime Minister again.
Mr. Raab stated, “Right now, the issue is that the Committee on Privileges and Conduct will begin taking oral testimony, including from Boris, within days of us having a new Prime Minister, or by next Friday at the latest.”
He stated that ‘it doesn’t seem conceivable’ for a Prime Minister to ‘give the country the attention it needs’ while an investigation is continuing, adding: ‘We’d be back in the Groundhog Day of Partygate, we need the country and the government to move forward’.
Mr. Raab supports Mr. Sunak, stating that he “has the widest popularity” and “can reestablish trust.”
Jo Twyman, co-founder of Deltapoll, stated, “Among those seeking for the Conservative leadership, Boris Johnson is in the lead.” As things now stand, no candidate would be able to avoid a Labour majority, which demonstrates the problem the Conservative government faces.
Timeline of the Tory presidential contest
Monday is the deadline for nominations, and contenders must have the support of at least 100 Tory MPs to advance.
Monday, 3.30 p.m.: the first voting round (if more than one candidate gets through)
Monday at 6:00 pm, the result of the first vote is disclosed. If three candidates advance, the contender with the fewest votes is eliminated.
Monday, 6.30 p.m.: “Indicative” ballot if two candidates remain; one may withdraw.
Tuesday through Friday, Conservative Party members may vote online if two candidates advance.
On Friday, the final vote concludes and the new Prime Minister of Britain is proclaimed.
Despite the months of controversy, intrigue, and infighting that brought down his government in the summer, Mr. Johnson has a level of electoral attraction that dwarfs that of any of his party colleagues, according to today’s Mail on Sunday poll.
Even if the poll indicates that Labour would still be ahead by ten points if Mr. Johnson became prime minister, the projected 26-point Labour majority that would result might be quickly overturned during a General Election campaign.
The same cannot be true for the estimated 124-seat majority Labour would earn if Mr. Sunak became leader or the record-breaking 320-seat majority if Ms. Truss remained in office.
Private polling data circulating within the Conservative Party shows that Mr. Johnson is the only candidate with a possibility of capturing the Red Wall seats, which are essential to Tory Election ambitions.
In these seats, Mr. Johnson has a favorable rating of +36%, according to a Portland Communications survey, compared to +21% for Mr. Sunak and +22% for Penny Mordaunt. When asked which future leader would make them more inclined to vote Conservative in the next General Election, Mr. Johnson received 56 percent of the vote, while Mr. Sunak received 48 percent.
Last Friday night in Mr. Sunak’s own seat, Richmond in Yorkshire, the author Jeffrey Archer appeared at a rally for Conservative MP Matt Vickers, highlighting Mr. Johnson’s electoral influence. When the 200-person gathering was asked to raise their hands if they preferred Johnson or Sunak as leader, Boris triumphed by a margin of 60 to 40.
A YouGov survey of Tory members released last week revealed the former prime minister’s enduring popularity among party members.
Before Liz Truss resigned, a poll revealed that Mr. Johnson was the favorite replacement among party members, with 32% preferring his return versus Rishi Sunak’s 23%.
Despite the fact that a July YouGov poll found that 59% of Tory members wanted Mr. Johnson to resign, Mr. Johnson remained in office.
But looming over it all is the possibility that only weeks after his triumphant return as prime minister, Mr. Johnson may be suspended or perhaps expelled from Parliament.
The Commons’ Privileges Committee will begin public hearings next month to determine if Mr. Johnson lied to his fellow MPs about his knowledge of lockdown-breaking parties at No. 10 during the outbreak.
If the committee, chaired by veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman, determines that Boris Johnson intentionally misled the House of Commons, it could recommend a ten-day suspension of the House of Commons, which could force Mr. Johnson to face a by-election in his vulnerable Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat.
The penalty must yet be accepted by the House of Commons, prompting threats from Johnson supporters that they will vote against the sanction.
Last night, a dispute arose over allegations that material already given to the investigation was so devastating that even conservative sources projected that Mr. Johnson would be “gone by Christmas.”
In a statement to The Mail on Sunday, Sir Charles Walker, a newly appointed Tory member of the committee, stated that he “did not recognize” the claims of evidence, not least since the committee “has not yet begun taking oral testimony.”
But some Johnson allies are concerned that the first month of the prime minister’s return to No. 10 will be dominated by televised hearings in a dusty Commons committee chamber, with the prime minister himself testifying.
Other MPs yearning for his return privately dismiss the danger, claiming that the public has “moved on” from the pandemic and that the committee, which has an inherent Tory majority, will not impose a ten-day suspension on a serving prime minister.
There are also rumors that the fact that Mr. Johnson would have been reconfirmed as prime minister would prevent Ms. Harman’s committee from “hitting the trigger.”
The detractors of Mr. Johnson regard this as ludicrous.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former foreign secretary for the Conservative Party, stated that reinstalling Boris Johnson as prime minister would be the “worst example” of putting the party’s interests ahead of the public’s.
‘Given that the vast majority of the public, including many Conservatives, are struggling with cost-of-living increases and economic problems, the prime minister must be someone who is economically coherent, who understands the economy, who has demonstrated that he does understand it, and who will be able to work closely with the chancellor to restore our economic strength,’ he added.
‘Unfortunately, in the case of Johnson, this is not the case. This is not a hypothetical inquiry. During his two or three years as prime minister, he demonstrated neither interest nor leadership in economic policy.
He stated that he supports former chancellor Rishi Sunak since he is “by far the best” of the candidates who are running.
Sir Peter Bottomley, the longest-serving member of the House as Father of the House, endorsed Rishi Sunak as the future prime minister.
The inbox of woes for the future prime minister.
The inbox of the next prime minister is overflowing with difficulties, and whomever assumes this huge responsibility must do it while attempting to unite a severely divided party. Here, CHRIS BROOKE examines the upcoming obstacles.
After amassing a £400 billion debt during the pandemic and with rising interest rates driving up borrowing costs, the government confronts the nightmare task of balancing its finances.
How can the Conservatives raise enough tax income and rein down expenditure while improving economic growth to demonstrate that the nation’s finances are not stuck in a debt quagmire?
With forecasts of winter blackouts, it will be an accomplishment to keep the lights on. Even with government assistance, millions of people will struggle to pay their energy bills, and with the possibility of costs rising further in April, the Prime Minister must determine what assistance to provide when the energy price guarantee expires in the spring. Energy expenses are also a significant burden for enterprises.
The health service appears to be mired in an endless crisis.
There are seven million individuals on waiting lists, constant problems with visiting a primary care physician, issues with ambulance response times, and a crisis in maternity care. There is a dire need for more physicians and nurses, and many believe that the only solution is a radical overhaul of the NHS. With only two years until the next election, however, it is impossible to enact significant fundamental changes.
With Vladimir Putin more cornered, fears of a nuclear escalation in the Ukraine conflict are growing. To aid Ukraine in achieving triumph, the United Kingdom and its NATO allies must provide ever-increasing support at a high price.
The Tory faithful have long urged a crackdown on the influx of illegal immigrants across the English Channel, but to date there has been no answer and the Rwanda deportation plan remains stalled in the courts.
In addition, certain sectors of the economy want more immigration to spur growth, presenting the new prime minister with yet another delicate balancing act.
BREXIT & NORTHERN IRELAND
Brexit may be finalized, but implementing it remains a significant challenge. The Northern Ireland protocol is intended to prevent a trade border with the Irish Republic by maintaining the province effectively within the EU’s single market for goods. Negotiations to establish a compromise solution are in a delicate stage. It may be necessary to decide whether to activate Article 16 emergency measures that might spark an EU trade war.
POLLS AND PARTY UNITY
With the Conservatives trailing Labour by up to 39 points in the polls, the future prime minister will be eager to avoid an early general election.
Therefore, the future prime minister must unite a party that is divided into sections. Since the Brexit referendum, conservative unity has been an unachievable objective, but it must be attained in order to avoid a total electoral wipeout in two years.
Some economists disagreed with Mr. Rees-market Mogg’s forecast, with the head of currency strategy at Rabobank, Jane Foley, telling the Financial Times that Mr. Johnson’s time in office was marked by ‘a lack of leadership from a government very distracted by one scandal after another’ and that ‘the possibility that that could return is not going to be welcomed by markets’.
Analysts at Berenberg Bank stated that a Johnson government would pose more market risks, with FT stating that the bank informed clients: ‘Given that the majority of Conservative MPs definitely do not want Johnson as their leader, mass resignations and a deeper spiral into chaos would loom big.’
Mr. Johnson, Mr. Sunak, and Ms. Mordaunt appear to have the best chance of reaching the high level of 100 nominations from 357 MPs required to appear in the Tory leadership vote.
However, it is probable that only one or two will make the cut by Monday at 2:00 p.m.
Dominic Raab stated on BBC Breakfast on Saturday morning that he expects Mr. Sunak to announce his candidacy “shortly, soon.”
He stated that the argument for Mr. Sunak to become Prime Minister has “grown and strengthened” and that “he is best positioned to restore confidence” and trust.
He stated, “Rishi had the right plan in the summer, and I believe it is still the right one now.”
I believe he is the best candidate to provide stability and confidence to millions of workers and businesses across the country. I also believe he is the best candidate to unite the party and form a government that will relentlessly deliver for the British people on issues such as the cost of living, crime, schools, and the National Health Service.
He noted that while he would love to see Mr. Johnson return to “front line politics,” the former premier would not be a suitable candidate for prime minister in this election.
Mr. Raab stated on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, “We cannot regress.” We cannot endure another Groundhog Day, soap opera, or Partygate event. We must move the nation and the government ahead.
Ms. Mordaunt became the first candidate to formally register her candidacy this evening, acknowledging that she has ground to make up on the top two candidates and stating that Conservatives have told her they want a “new” start.
The most recent tally indicates that Mr. Sunak has 72 supporters, while Mr. Johnson has 38 and Ms. Mordaunt has 18. This afternoon, the former chancellor announced Sajid Javid, George Eustice, Chris Philp, Gavin Williamson, and Liam Fox as his most recent additions.
Although Mr. Johnson is still arriving from the Dominican Republic, he has already informed his allies that he will run for office.
Interest expenses on the £2.4 trillion debt pile reached an all-time high in September, while Chancellor Jeremy Hunt scrambled to find £40 billion in budget cutbacks for a Halloween Budget.
Friends of Mr. Johnson told MailOnline that Mr. Hunt’s retention as chancellor is ‘programmed in’ if he is re-elected prime minister. One said, “He’d be absolutely insane to change Hunt.” “He has been well received.” Any change, even to a better qualified individual, would result in confusion.
A top Tory source stated, “It’s something that must be tested.” The two finest talents in the party must determine if the party can be healed.’ They said, ‘The Conservative Party must decide if it wants to win another national election. If so, then it must come together immediately.’
A source close to bookmakers’ favorite Mr. Sunak downplayed the possibility of peace negotiations yesterday night, stating that while he was “ready to talk to all colleagues,” there were “no plans” for a meeting with Mr. Johnson. However, according to a senior Tory, there are indications that both sides are ready to mend the rift that threatens to undercut whoever succeeds Miss Truss. “Overall, I believe that [a meeting] will occur,” the insider said.
As Sky News captured the former prime minister and his wife Carrie Johnson on a British Airways flight returning from the Dominican Republic with their children, the MP reportedly heard “one or two boos” as he boarded.
Influential Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, who was a key Sunak supporter in the previous leadership contest, stated that he now want to see Mr. Johnson as prime minister with Mr. Sunak as chancellor.
Yesterday, both men experienced a spike in support that threatened to make it impossible for competing contenders to receive sufficient nominations to appear on the ballot.
In a crucial intervention, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace stated that he was abandoning his own leadership ambitions in favor of backing Mr. Johnson. He stated that the Conservatives should consider “who could win the next election.”
Mr. Johnson also gained support from five other Cabinet ministers, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Simon Clarke, and the Secretary of State for Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris sees Mr. Johnson as the party’s “standout star” who is best suited to “complete the task he started” in today’s Daily Mail.
Mr. Johnson had the support of 43 MPs as of last night, but sources are certain that he will receive well over the 100 nominations required to make the ballot on Monday.
Mr. Sunak was in the lead with the support of 83 MPs, including former chancellor Sajid Javid, who stated that it was “obvious” that he had the “values our party needs” to “move on from past mistakes.”
Mr. Johnson is expected to return to the United Kingdom today after a vacation in the Caribbean. Sir James Duddridge, a former minister, said that he told him he was “up for it” despite not having formally declared his candidacy.
Sir James stated, “I’ve been communicating with the manager via WhatsApp. He will fly back home. He stated, “I’m flying back, Dudders; we’re doing this.” I’m game for it’
If the former chancellor agrees, Mr. Johnson would be willing to meet Mr. Sunak as early as this afternoon, according to his allies. Mr. Sunak resigned from the Cabinet in July, forcing Mr. Johnson’s resignation a few days later. The ‘backstabber’ story persisted throughout Mr. Sunak’s summer leadership campaign and is regarded as one of the primary reasons Tory members rejected him in favor of Miss Truss.
MPs on both sides of the Tory schism fear that neither man can repair the profound wounds without the support of the other. Paul Bristow, a representative from Peterborough, stated that it was time to “bring the band back together.”
He stated to the BBC, “Boris Johnson has a mandate from the party members and the electorate.” I’m confident that my colleagues will consider this while casting their ballots, and we can avoid a general election, reassemble this band, place political heavyweights in the Cabinet, and go on to win the next general election. I am certain of that.
It is unknown how a deal between the two leading candidates may function. Mr. Sunak resigned as chancellor in part due to disagreements over economic strategy, and it is difficult to imagine his assuming the position again.
Allies of Mr. Johnson ridiculed the notion that he might seek a prominent position in a Sunak administration, such as home secretary.
Wednesday’s sudden resignation of Miss Truss has sparked a frantic campaign to succeed her.
Monday at 2:00 p.m., 100 nominations from Conservative MPs are required for a candidate to make the ballot.
If required, Tory MPs will vote that evening to narrow the field to two candidates. If there are still two candidates, Conservative Party members will be invited to vote online on Friday to choose the victor.
Miss Truss will remain in her position as caretaker leader until Wednesday, when she may participate in the final round of Prime Minister’s Questions.