Downing Street: Johnson back in London, Sunak leading support
Ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to return to Downing Street after the resignation of his successor, Liz Truss. (Archives)
Ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to London on Saturday morning after a holiday in the Caribbean, reinforcing the hypothesis of his candidacy in the race in Downing Street, but Rishi Sunak, the only one to reach the required 100 sponsorships, continued to widen the gap.
After the resignation of Liz Truss, who only remained in office for 44 days, three names have emerged in this blitzkrieg within the Conservative Party: the current Minister for Relations with Parliament Penny Mordaunt, who formalized her candidacy on Friday, Rishi Sunak, the former finance minister who lost to Liz Truss in early September, and former prime minister Boris Johnson, who resigned in July after a succession of scandals.
Boris Johnson waved to the media outside Gatwick Airport mid-morning before rushing into a car. On Friday evening, an ally of Boris Johnson in Parliament, James Duddridge, had reported an exchange with his boss. He said: "We will do it, I am ready", according to this MP.
But the ex-Prime Minister, who left Parliament on July 20 launching Hasta la vista, baby!, has yet to officially announce his candidacy.
Rishi Sunak, whose resignation from the Johnson government, followed by some 60 others, had led to that of his boss, should soon confirm his candidacy, said the BBC on Saturday at the start of the afternoon.
He is the first to have exceeded the threshold on Friday evening of the 100 sponsorships required to hope to take the lead of the Conservative Party and thus win Downing Street.
Candidates have until Monday afternoon to secure these endorsements.
MPs will vote first and, if there are two remaining candidates, the 170,000 members of the party will have to decide between them by an online vote by October 28.
In the event of a single candidate, he would enter Downing Street directly in beginning of the week.
Much of the game was played behind the scenes on Saturday for Johnson and Sunak, who have been at loggerheads since last summer, each trying to get more sponsorships.
Rishi Sunak dominates the race, according to British media.
According to the Guido Fawkes website, which closely follows the ups and downs of the race, Rishi Sunak had 107 sponsorships on Saturday morning, ahead of Boris Johnson (71) and Penny Mordaunt (25).
The Rishi Sunak's allies were campaigning in the media on Saturday.
Rishi Sunak is the ideal candidate, former deputy prime minister Dominic Raab told Sky News. If you look at the economic challenge we have, he is the one who has always been right about what we need, he asserted.
We cannot go back to back. We can't have another episode […] of the partygate soap opera, illegal parties in Downing Street during the COVID lockdown, he also said.
Johnson's final months in office were marked by several scandals, including the partygate scandal, in which the police believed he had broken the law.
He is still under investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Committee which could, in theory, lead to his suspension from Parliament or even his expulsion as an MP.
British Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt is campaigning to become leader of the Conservative Party and UK Prime Minister.
Former Conservative Party leader William Hague has warned that a return of Boris Johnson would lead to a death spiral for the party. It's probably the worst idea I've heard in my 46 years as a Conservative Party member, he told Times Radio.
Similarly, a close ally of Johnson during the Brexit campaign, David Frost, argued on Twitter that it needed to move on. It is simply not fair to risk repeating the chaos and confusion of last year, he added.
But Boris Johnson can still count on strong support, such as that of his former Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Boris Johnson has stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party after three tumultuous years.
For Conservative MP Andrew Stephenson, he is a proven leader.
Not only did he give us that historic victory in the 2019 general election, but he also got Brexit, he delivered the fastest vaccine deployment in Europe, it has stood by our allies in Ukraine, he added.
The next first minister will be the fifth since 2016, when the UK voted to leave the EU open.