Boris Johnson has returned to Britain to attempt a swift political comeback

  • Johnson was forced out of office earlier this year
  • Candidates for Prime Minister need nominations of 100 legislators
  • Sunak is a favorite among bookmakers
  • The winner is the fifth British Prime Minister in six years

LONDON, Oct 22 (Reuters) – Boris Johnson returned to Britain on Saturday to consider a bold bid to win a second term as prime minister just weeks after he was forced to resign, some colleagues warned. confusion.

Potential candidates to replace Prime Minister Liz Truss, who exited in dramatic fashion on Thursday after six weeks in power, spent a busy weekend lobbying to secure enough nominations to enter the leadership race before Monday’s deadline.

Johnson, who was on vacation in the Caribbean when Truss resigned, has not commented publicly on the bid for his old job. He has the support of dozens of conservative lawmakers, but needs 100 referrals to be considered.

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Trade Minister James Duttridge said on Friday Johnson told him he was “ready for it”.

According to a Sky News reporter on board the flight to London on Saturday morning, Johnson was jeered by some passengers on the flight to Britain.

Wearing a dark jacket and backpack, Johnson waved to photographers at the capital’s Gatwick Airport before driving off.

It would be an unusual political renaissance for the former journalist and ex-mayor of London, who left Downing Street but grumbled that his colleagues had “changed the rules halfway” in a race – a swipe at disapproving Conservative lawmakers. He must serve a full term.

Former defense minister Benny Mordant became the first candidate to officially announce his intention to run as the next leader of the Conservative Party, but Johnson and Rishi Sunak, once his finance minister, led the way for potential rivals ahead of next week’s vote.

Sunak, runner-up to Druss in the previous leadership race, has yet to formally announce his candidacy this time around, not speaking to reporters as he left his London home on Saturday.

The prospect of Johnson returning to government is a polarizing issue for many in the Conservative Party, which has seen four prime ministers in six years and is deeply divided.

For some conservative lawmakers, Johnson is a vote-winner, drawing nationwide attention not only with his popularity but also with his dynamic brand of optimism.

To others he is a toxic figure, and the question is whether he can convince the dozens of legislators who have deserted him that he is now the person who can unite the party and turn around its moribund fortunes.

“Death Spiral”

Former home minister Priti Patel on Saturday announced her support for her former boss, saying she had a “mandate to deliver our elected manifesto and a proven track record of getting big results right”.

But his colleague Andrew Bridgen said he would consider resigning from the parliamentary group if Johnson returned and warned Conservatives against developing a “cult of personality” around the former prime minister. Dominic Raab, foreign secretary under Johnson, said the party risked going “backwards” if he returned.

Former Conservative leader William Hague said Friday that Johnson’s return was the worst idea he had heard in nearly half a century as a party member. He said it could lead to a “death spiral” for conservatives.

If Johnson can secure the necessary number of appointments, he will go head-to-head with Sunak, who stepped down as finance minister in July, saying his former boss was unable to make tough decisions.

Sunak is the first leadership candidate to hit the 100-nomination threshold to enter the race before Monday’s deadline, according to media reports.

Johnson, who now has half the necessary support, is currently under investigation by Parliament’s Privileges Committee to establish whether he lied to the House of Commons about the lockdown-breaking parties. Ministers are expected to resign if they are found to have knowingly misled Parliament.

The race to become Britain’s fourth prime minister in four years has been accelerated to just one week. Under the rules, only three candidates can reach lawmakers’ first ballot by Monday afternoon, with the final two to be decided by the following Friday for a vote by party members.

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Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Additional report by Henry Nicholls; Editing by Toby Chopra, Mike Harrison and Christina Finzer

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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