December 3, 2022

Boris Johnson returns to the UK in a bid for a quick political comeback

Boris Johnson returns to the UK in a bid for a quick political comeback

  • Johnson was forced out of office this year
  • Candidates for prime minister need 100 nominations for MPs
  • Sunak is a bookmaker’s favorite, then Johnson
  • Truss resigned after policies sparked market turmoil

LONDON (Reuters) – Boris Johnson returned to Britain on Saturday as he contemplates a bold bid to win a second term as prime minister just weeks after he was forced to step down and some colleagues warned his return could create more political chaos. .

Potential candidates to replace Prime Minister Liz Truss, who resigned Thursday after six weeks in office, were embarking on a frantic weekend of pressure to secure enough nominations to enter the leadership contest before Monday’s deadline.

Johnson, who was vacationing in the Caribbean when Truss quit, has not commented publicly about his offer of his old job. He has the support of dozens of conservative lawmakers, but needs to secure 100 nominations for consideration.

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Commerce Secretary James Dodridge said Friday that Johnson told him he was “prepared for it”. On Saturday, he said Johnson had secured 100 nominations, although a Reuters tally put him at around 40, while the tally showed former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, a bookmaker’s favorite at the moment, had crossed 100.

The Sunday Times reported that Sunak and Johnson may meet as late as Saturday, without giving details of the planned discussions.

Former Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt was the only one to officially announce she would run, although a Reuters tally showed she had secured only 22 nominations so far before the deadline of 1300 GMT on Monday.

The next prime minister, a position that has changed hands three times in four years, faces a huge incoming mail after Truss’ economic plans hurt bond markets, raise government borrowing costs and put more pressure on families and businesses already grappling with a cost-of-living crisis.

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

Wearing a dark jacket and backpack, Johnson waved to photographers at London’s Gatwick Airport before driving away.

It would be a stunning return for the former journalist and former mayor of London, who left Downing Street surrounded by scandal, saying his fellow party lawmakers had “changed the rules halfway” to prevent him from serving for a full term.

In a boost to Sunak, another potential challenger, Commerce Minister Kimi Badenouche who ran the leadership race earlier this year, backed the former finance minister and excluded herself from another bid for the top job.

polarization

The prospect of Johnson becoming prime minister again is a polarizing issue for many in the Conservative Party, which is deeply divided after the deaths of four prime ministers in six years.

For some Conservative lawmakers, Johnson is the vote winner, able to woo across the country with his celebrity image and energetic brand of optimism. For others, he is a toxic figure who will struggle to unite the party and thus may undermine efforts to build stable leadership to calm turbulent financial markets.

Former Home Secretary Priti Patel said her old boss had “the mandate to deliver our elected manifesto and a track record of getting the big decisions right”.

Andrew Bridgen, another Conservative lawmaker, said he could resign from the parliamentary group if Johnson returned and asked the Conservatives not to create a “personal cult” for Johnson.

Former Conservative leader William Hague said Johnson’s return would lead to a “death spiral” for the party.

If Johnson can secure enough nominations, he could compete with Sunak, who resigned as his finance minister in July, saying his former boss was unable to make tough decisions.

Johnson is currently under investigation by the Parliament’s Concessions Committee to determine whether he lied to the House of Commons about parties breaking the lockdown. Ministers found to have deliberately misled Parliament are expected to resign.

The competition has been accelerated to only take one week. Under the rules, only three candidates will be able to reach lawmakers’ first ballot on Monday afternoon, with the last two candidates coming up for a vote on Friday that is limited to about 170,000 registered Conservative Party members.

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Reporting from Andrew McCaskill. Additional reporting by Henry Nichols. Editing by Edmund Blair and Christina Fincher

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.