Boris Johnson has landed back in the UK after returning from a Caribbean holiday as he is expected to launch a bid to return to Number 10. The 58-year-old, who in July was forced to resign after a series of scandals and ministerial resignations, has emerged as a shock contender to take over from his successor Liz Truss, who herself resigned this week.
In order to become prime minister once again, Mr Johnson would need to secure the backing of 100 Tory MPs in the Conservative leadership contest, by Monday. However, he is up against rival bids from former chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and Leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt.
Ms Mordaunt, the MP for Portsmouth North, remains the only potential candidate so far to formally announce a run for the top job. Yet despite the lack of a formal announcement, Sunak supporters are already claiming he has hit the 100-nomination threshold to make it through to the next round of the contest. Ms Mordaunt is said to be hovering around the 30-nominations mark.
The potential installation of Mr Johnson as prime minister has sparked controversy after his resignation in the summer. He is still facing an investigation into his conduct in the Partygate scandal that engulfed his government, and stands accused of misleading MPs over his and others’ conduct during Covid lockdowns.
Johnson loyalist and Tory MP for Rochford and Southend East, James Duddridge, is backing his return. He wrote on Twitter: “I hope you enjoyed your holiday boss. Time to come back. Few issues at the office that need addressing. #bringbackboris.”
Conservative leadership race contenders
Sunak backer and former Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, this morning told BBC Breakfast he was sceptical about his former boss’ ability to focus on the top job while the investigation is ongoing. "There’s going to be oral testimony from people from No 10 and he’s going to have to give oral testimony; I just can’t see how the new PM could give the country the attention and focus that it needs," he said. "We cannot go backwards. We cannot have another episode of the Groundhog Day of the soap opera of Partygate."
Meanwhile, Ms Mordaunt has today released a video in support of her bid, entitled ‘The Real Me’. In it, speaking of her home city of Portsmouth, she says it “likes a pie and a pint and quite frankly, so do I”. She adds: “I draw my strengths from the people I meet and the stories they tell.”
Hopefuls have until 2pm on Monday to confirm their candidacy - and support - before the field is whittled down to two and the vote put to Conservative Party members.