A cabinet minister told Sky News he believes Boris Johnson could secure the 100 nominations he needs from Conservative MPs to advance the Tory leadership race if he were to stand.
Speculation is growing that Johnson could return to front-line politics after the dramatic resignation of Liz Truss, his successor, six weeks after he was officially removed from the top job.
Commons leader Penny Mordaunt became the first candidate to enter the race on Friday, saying she wants to “unite our country, keep our promises and win the next general election.”
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Party rules for the leadership contest mean contenders needs the backing of at least 100 Conservative MPs Monday afternoon to stay in the race.
This means that the maximum number of people who can stand is three. If three candidates get 100 supporters, there will be a vote by MPs, with the top two presented to party members and a winner chosen by Friday 28 October.
However, if Conservative MPs unite behind one candidate, the contest will end on Monday.
Three cabinet ministers have said they would support Johnson if he enters the race.
Jacob Rees-Mogg became the first to declare this morning, posting on social media: “I’m backing Boris #BorisorBust.”
Simon Clarke, the leveling secretary, also backed the former prime minister, telling the Telegraph: “Boris is the person we need to lead our country and our party.”
Ben Wallace, the defense secretary, said he was “leaning toward Boris Johnson” as he ruled himself out of the running.
The second leadership contest in three months began after the resignation of Ms. Truss, who was forced to leave office after 44 days in which his tax cut mini-budget crashed and burned.
Johnson is believed to be on holiday in the Dominican Republic, but reports suggest his return to the UK is imminent.
Will Walden, Johnson’s former press secretary, told Sky News: “I spoke to someone who spoke to him and he’s back. And he’s clearly doing the polling.”
‘Boris riding to the rescue’
Asked about Johnson’s chances of a second bid for the job, a cabinet minister told Sky News political editor Beth Rigby: “I hope it gets to 100.
“Even the people who resigned from their government were on the terrace yesterday telling their colleagues that they would now support it and the members definitely will.”
A friend of Johnson’s also told Sky News he is “likely” to show up.
Sir Christopher Chope, the veteran Conservative Conservative, told Sky News he is “thrilled” at the prospect of Johnson returning to No. 10.
“The news that Boris Johnson could be riding to the rescue of the country and the Conservative Party is really a great tonic,” he said.
‘Not the character’
Although a number of Conservative MPs have expressed support for Johnson’s return, he remains a divisive figure.
Foreign Secretary Jesse Norman said selecting Johnson as Conservative leader would be “absolutely catastrophic”.
Sir Roger Gale, the senior MP, reminded voters in a tweet that the former prime minister, who resigned in a mud of sleaze, remains under investigation by the Commons privileges committee. for potentially misleading the House on partygate.
If convicted, Johnson could face impeachment proceedings and potentially lose his seat in a by-election if he receives a 10-day or longer suspension.
Sir Roger told Times Radio that if Johnson is again voted in as prime minister, he would give up the whip and run as an independent.
While Crispin Blunt told Sky News, Johnson is “not the character” to lead the Conservative Party at the moment, but said he could return in the future.
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Who else could run?
Rishi Sunak, runner-up to Ms Truss in the previous leadership race, has said he is “very, very up for the job”, according to Sky’s deputy political editor Sam Coates.
Former cabinet ministers Dominic Raab and Robert Jenrick are among those who have endorsed the former chancellor.
Jeremy Hunt, the new chancellor, has ruled himself out of the race.
Suella Braverman, who resigned as interior minister on WednesdayShe was highly critical of Mrs. Truss when she resigned, an indication, her allies believe, of her intention to run.
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Opposition parties say that whoever receives the keys to Downing Street a general election must be called immediately.
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said Johnson was “unfit to govern” and that the British people “deserved much better than this revolving door of chaos”.