Boris Johnson is rumoured to be ready to stand as a candidate in the imminent leadership race to replace Liz Truss, following the prime minister’s resignation this afternoon.
The former prime minister, whose own resignation came after a heated, largely media-driven campaign to see him ousted over, amongst other things, COVID-19 breaches, is expected to run against Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt.
On Thursday, Oct. 20, Steven Swinford, political editor for The Times, tweeted:
“I’m told that Boris Johnson is expected to stand in the Tory leadership contest. He’s taking soundings but is said to believe it is a matter of national interest.”
Meanwhile, Tom Harwood from British television channel GB News tweeted: “I’m told one MP who resigned from Boris Johnson’s government in July is now telling colleagues they would back Boris Johnson in next week’s leadership contest.”
Within moments of Liz Truss’ announcement, Conservative lawmakers began declaring their backing for Johnson’s return, with senior Tory lawmaker Andrea Jenkyns, who previously ran against Theresa May in a bid to be Britain’s leader, being among the first to demonstrate their support.
“I’ve just been walking through Parliament, chatting with MPs and government aides,” said Ellen Milligan, a reporter from Bloomberg. “There’s lots of chatter about the prospect of Boris Johnson running. But overwhelmingly they don’t want loads of people to put their hats in the ring, and instead think it should be left to the ‘big beasts’ who have already built-up MP support to battle it out, in order to make the process as smooth as possible. Those are Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt.”
Bloomberg reporter Joe Mayes said, “The ‘bring back Boris’ operation is swinging into life. You can’t forget that many of the 100+ Tory MPs elected in 2019 felt like they owed their seats to Johnson, and for some that feeling of loyalty remains.”
Paul Bristow, a Conservative lawmaker who represents Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, told Sky News that he also supported Johnson returning to the top job.
“It’s been an extraordinary day in British politics,” he said, stating he had spoken to many of his constituents and that “the strong message I got was ‘bring back Boris Johnson’. I stood in a by-election six months before Boris Johnson won that historic mandate. I came third – we were nineteen points behind in the polls before Boris Johnson became prime minister.”
Bristow went on to win his seat in the next by-election, with Johnson as PM.
“We need an election winner, and we had an election winner,” the lawmaker said of Johnson. “Boris Johnson’s got a mandate from the members (of the Conservative Party), he’s got a mandate from the country. If Boris Johnson wants to do this, my constituents clearly want Boris to do this.”
Johnson quickly became popular and respected in Ukraine for his prompt and ongoing support for the embattled nation from the start of Putin’s illegal invasion.
Speaking to the Kyiv Post in June, Bristow said that Ukrainians are “fighting like lions,” and praised Johnson’s leadership in addressing the issue of Russian aggression.
“The prime minister of the United Kingdom was unequivocal in his support for the people of Ukraine,” he said. “He led the international response to Putin’s aggression where other countries were slow to act, or in one or two cases were keener on placating Putin.”
“Boris Johnson understood that Ukraine wasn’t going to negotiate over its territory, that it needed support and arms to resist, and that if we were able to give Ukraine those arms and the means to resist, then that’s exactly what we would do.”
Lawmaker Nadine Dorries of the Conservative Party furthers this sentiment, declaring that Johnson was the one person “elected by the British public with a mandate until January ’25. If Liz Truss is no longer PM there can be no coronation of previously failed candidates.”
Graham Brady, leader of the 1922 Committee that essentially governs the Conservative Party, said that a new British PM should be in place by Friday – with many suspecting her replacement to be recently appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt.
Speaking outside the House of Commons, Brady said that further details of the process to replace Truss would be announced later today.
“It will be possible to conduct a ballot and conclude a leadership election by Friday, 28 October,” he said.
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