Mordaunt enters Tory race as Johnson eyes return for PM


SERIOUS TIMES

Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Johnson loyalist, became the first minister to publicly back him, tweeting: ‘Only Boris can win the next election.

His Cabinet colleague Simon Clarke also backed Johnson.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, a Tory grassroots favourite, told reporters he was not standing tall and said: ‘At the moment I’m leaning towards Boris Johnson.

Wallace noted that Johnson was the only potential leader with UK-wide electoral legitimacy, having won a landslide Conservative victory over Labor in 2019.

But the minister added that Johnson still had “a few questions to answer” over the multiple scandals, which have resulted in an inquiry that has yet to be launched in the House of Commons.

If found guilty of lying to the House of Commons over the ‘Partygate’ scandal – lockdown-breaking parties held in Downing Street – Johnson could be suspended or even expelled from Parliament.

The Inquiry Committee is sitting on “damning new evidence” that would condemn any new post for Prime Minister Johnson, ITV News reported.

Thanks to such controversies, Johnson left number 10 with dismal polls. A poll found that the word most often associated with him for voters was “liar”.

Other conservatives were appalled at the thought of his return. Veteran backbencher Roger Gale has warned that Johnson could face a wave of resignations from MPs refusing to serve under him as leader.

MP Crispin Blunt told the BBC that Johnson was a “fantastic communicator” but Sunak was “a much more serious personality” who could deliver a “serious message” to the country.

Foreign Office Secretary Jesse Norman said choosing Johnson again would be “an absolutely catastrophic decision”.

‘SOAP OPERA’

While Sunak and Johnson have yet to officially declare, the contest is expected to be a three-way race between them and Mordaunt, who is the minister in charge of the House of Commons.

Candidates have until 2 p.m. (1300 GMT) Monday to produce a minimum of 100 nominations from fellow Tory MPs.

This means that a maximum of three candidates will emerge from among the 357 Tories in the Commons.

If necessary, they will vote to leave two candidates standing and hold another “indicative” vote to tell party members their preferred option.

If no single candidate emerges, the base will then have its say in an online ballot and the result will be announced next Friday.

The political website Guido Fawkes, which runs a scrolling spreadsheet of declared support from Tory MPs, had Sunak on 73, Johnson on 61 and Mordaunt on 21 as of Friday afternoon.

Main opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer said Britain ‘can’t have another experience’ after Truss’ disastrous tenure.

“It’s not just a soap opera at the top of the Conservative Party – it’s doing huge damage to the reputation of our country,” he said.