Boris Johnson’s return as Prime Minister would be a ‘nailed disaster’, says former minister | Rishi Sunak


Rishi Sunak has won the backing of eurosceptic leader Steve Baker, who has warned that Boris Johnson’s return as prime minister will be a “guaranteed nailed down disaster” that will implode the government.

Sunak, who is the favorite to succeed Liz Truss, is now well past the 100 MPs needed to run for the ballot.

Johnson appears to be struggling to meet that threshold despite claims from his supporters, although he won support on Sunday from Nadhim Zahawi, the seventh minister to join him.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the business secretary, said Johnson was “clearly going to stand up” and “the people doing the numbers are telling me they have the numbers.”

Sunak’s campaign received a boost on Sunday by gaining the support of Baker, a former Truss supporter, minister and influential figure in the European Research Group faction.

He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: ‘I think it would be better if Boris did something big and statesmanlike. I mean, if he wants to come back as Prime Minister, he should do it after this question of privileges is settled. I think he would make a terrific party chairman…

“But what we cannot do is have him as prime minister in circumstances where he is bound to implode, taking the whole government with him. We just can’t start over.

Sunak and Johnson spent Saturday night locked in discussions about their potential future roles in the party. Johnson’s camp pushed for a rapprochement after Sunak’s resignation, which helped spark the former prime minister’s exit from No 10, but their meeting appeared to end without a deal.

One of Johnson’s top supporters, Chris Heaton-Harris, said Johnson “had the numbers” to win, but couldn’t say why neither he nor Sunak had said so publicly.

The third candidate is Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the Commons, whose supporter Damian Green has warned of a “sewing” by big Westminster figures without a vote for members of the Conservative party.

Speaking on Sky News, Green said of Johnson: ‘We saw what happened last time and how the government literally collapsed. We know there is this ongoing investigation and as long as it continues if [Johnson] become a leader, it is possible that we can all be here again.

Mordaunt told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg that she thought she could get the party together. She denied having been in contact with Johnson’s camp offering her support in return for a job – and said she was not considering backing another candidate.

Many Tory MPs remain extremely concerned about the prospect of a Johnson return, with ongoing questions about Partygate and the threat of defections from some MPs who have indicated they will refuse to work with him.

Baker pointed to the upcoming inquiry into whether Johnson misled the House of Commons over the Partygate scandal, saying MPs “will, as they see it, refuse to surrender their integrity to save it, and to then his position as prime minister will crumble.”

Baker declined to say how he would vote on the issue, adding that the idea of ​​a Prime Minister Johnson post would be “a guaranteed failure and we cannot allow that to happen”.

He also warned Sunak that he would not hesitate to join other eurosceptics if he did not pursue the government’s current policy on the Northern Ireland protocol.

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