Boris Johnson returns to UK in bid for quick political comeback

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LONDON, Oct. 22 (Reuters) –

Boris Johnson returned to Britain from vacation on Saturday to consider a bold bid for a second term as prime minister in a race that could pit him against his former finance minister whose resignation in July led him to resign.

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

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Johnson, who was vacationing in the Caribbean when Truss quit, has not publicly commented on an offer for his old job. He has received support from dozens of Conservative lawmakers, but needs 100 nominations to be considered.

Trade Secretary James Duddridge said on Friday that Johnson had told him he was « in for it ». He said on Saturday Johnson had secured 100 nominations, although a Reuters tally put him at just over 40 and Rishi Sunak, a former finance minister whose decision to step down helped bring Johnson down, at over 40. 110.

The new prime minister, a post that will have changed hands three times in four years, faces a huge inbox after Truss’ economic plans caused turmoil in bond markets, increased government borrowing costs and added new strains to households and businesses already struggling with cost. life crisis.

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The Sunday Times reported that the bookmakers’ favorite Sunak and Johnson could meet late on Saturday. He did not give details of the planned talks.

Only former defense minister Penny Mordaunt has officially said she will stand, although a Reuters tally showed she had only 22 nominations so far before Monday’s 13:00 GMT deadline .

Johnson was booed by some passengers on the plane bound for Britain, a Sky News reporter reported on the flight. Dressed in a dark jacket and backpack, Johnson waved to photographers after landing at Gatwick Airport in London and before departing.


It would be a stunning comeback for the former journalist and ex-London mayor, who left Downing Street shrouded in scandal, claiming fellow party lawmakers ‘changed the rules mid-term’ to prevent him from serving a full mandate.

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In a boost to Sunak, another potential candidate, Commerce Minister Kemi Badenoch who ran in a leadership race earlier this year, backed the former finance minister and thus ruled himself out of the race. another candidacy for the highest position.

The prospect of another Prime Minister Johnson post is a polarizing issue for many in the Conservative Party, which is deeply divided after seeing four prime ministers in six years.

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

Former Home Secretary Priti Patel said her former boss had « a mandate to deliver our elected manifesto and a proven track record of making good decisions ».

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Andrew Bridgen, another Tory lawmaker, said he could resign from the caucus if Johnson came back and told the Tories not to create a « personality cult » of Johnson.

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

Johnson is currently being investigated by Parliament’s Privileges Committee into whether he lied to the House of Commons about parties that broke the lockdown. Ministers found guilty of knowingly misleading Parliament should resign.

The contest was sped up to take just one week. Under the rules, only three candidates will be able to reach lawmakers’ first round of voting on Monday afternoon, with the final two up for a vote on Friday limited to around 170,000 registered Conservative Party members. (Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Additional reporting by Henry Nicholls; Editing by Edmund Blair and Jason Neely)



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