Boris Johnson ousted by scandal plans to return as UK PM
Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – ousted by ethics scandals just three months ago – has been scrambling to make a comeback as one of several candidates seeking to replace Liz Truss, whose rapid downfall has caused disarray in a period of serious economic crisis. challenges.
The ruling Conservative Party has ordered a lightning-fast race to finalize nominations on Monday and install a new prime minister, its third this year, within a week.
Johnson has not publicly stated he is running, but a political ally who has spoken to him told Sky News he is up for it and the bookmakers have made him one of the favorites to win the contest .
A Johnson return would be a stunning revival for a polarizing figure driven out by a slew of ethics scandals. Opponents say giving him another chance would only spark more controversy and disappointment.
The leadership uncertainty comes at a time of weak economic growth and as millions grapple with higher borrowing costs and rising prices for groceries, fuel and other basics . A growing wave of strikes by railway and postal workers, lawyers and others has revealed growing discontent as a recession looms.
Truss resigned on Thursday after a turbulent 45 days, admitting she could not deliver on her economic tax-cutting package, which she was forced to abandon after causing turmoil in financial markets.
House of Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt was the first candidate to publicly declare she is running to replace Truss, saying in a tweet on Friday that she represented a fresh start.
Mordaunt, an outspoken 49-year-old Royal Navy reservist who briefly served as Britain’s defense secretary in 2019, is the bookies’ third favorite. Outside of conservative circles, she is perhaps best known for her appearance on the 2014 reality TV diving show Splash!
Leading the pack in support from lawmakers, although it has yet to be publicly stated, is former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, who was previously a Truss runner-up.
Sunak, 42, had repeatedly warned conservatives that Truss’ tax cut plans would be disastrous, as they turned out to be. Supporters of the former hedge fund manager see him as a steady hand for a struggling economy.
The popular Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace, presented as a possible candidate, excluded himself on Friday.
The wildcard is Johnson, who was forced out of office in July and is still being investigated over whether he lied to parliament while in office, which could lead to his suspension as a lawmaker.
His allies in Parliament are scrambling to muster support for an I’m Backing Boris campaign. One of them, lawmaker James Duddridge, told Sky News the former prime minister would be returning from vacation in the Caribbean to take part in the leadership race and that he was up for it.
Johnson, 58, is still adored by some Tories as the vote winner with a rare common touch that led the party to a big election victory in 2019. He is more popular with the party’s base than lawmakers and he is reviled by some for the chaos and scandal that marred his tenure.
Having a winner in place is what the party needs to survive, Johnson ally Nadine Dorries told Sky News.
Johnson was able to overlook the failings that would have sunk many politicians. He survived even after being fined by police for attending one of a series of illegal parties at government buildings as the UK went into lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
He finally resigned after one scandal too many. This incident involved his appointment of a politician who had been accused of sexual misconduct, prompting an exodus of dozens of members of his government.
Former Tory leader Michael Howard implored the party not to return to Johnson-era psychodrama.
He had his chance, and it didn’t work out,” Howard said. Some conservative lawmakers have even threatened to quit the party if Johnson returns to leadership.
Rob Ford, a professor of political science at the University of Manchester, said conservatives who thought Johnson could solve their problems don’t live in a reality-based community.
He warned that the electorate as a whole has not forgotten Johnson’s many scandals and that he no longer has the appeal he once had.
We know the public doesn’t like him, he can’t govern, he certainly can’t unify his party. It will be a disaster. It will fail, Ford said.
To be considered, nominees will need the signatures of at least 100 of the 357 Conservative lawmakers, which means a maximum field of three. If three hit that threshold, lawmakers will vote to eliminate one, then hold an indicative vote on the bottom two.
The 1,72,000 party members will then be able to decide between the two finalists in an online vote. The new leader must be chosen by October 28.
On Friday night, Johnson had around half of the 100 supporters needed to show up, according to several unofficial counts from UK media organisations. More than half of Conservative lawmakers have yet to publicly endorse a candidate.
Truss resigned after his brief and disastrous experiment in libertarian economics. His proposal for aggressive tax cuts that would be financed by public borrowing sent the value of the pound plummeting.
Investors have shown little tolerance for his plan at a time when Britain’s economy is still grappling with its exit from the European Union, the coronavirus pandemic and war in Ukraine.
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