Boris Johnson breaks silence to throw hat in ring

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Boris Johnson has declared he is “up for it” and will fly back to the UK from his Caribbean holiday to attempt an extraordinary comeback as Prime Minister, an ally has said. Trade minister Sir James Duddridge said the man ousted by his own Cabinet just six weeks ago has told him “we are going to do this”.

The Tory MP said Mr Johnson will be landing on Saturday and will challenge to replace Liz Truss as Conservative leader.

Sir James told the PA news agency: “I’ve been in contact with the boss via WhatsApp. I came out for him before he declared for himself.

“He’s going to fly back. He said, ‘I’m flying back, Dudders. We are going to do this. I’m up for it’.”

Penny Mordaunt was the first candidate to throw her hat into the ring in the race to succeed Liz Truss as Prime Minister, with a pledge to re-unite the bitterly divided Tory Party.

The Leader of the House – who finished third in the last leadership election – said she had been encouraged by the support she had received from fellow Conservative MPs.

She said in a statement posted on social media: “I’ve been encouraged by support from colleagues who want a fresh start, a united party and leadership in the national interest.

“I’m running to be the leader of the Conservative Party and your Prime Minister – to unite our country, deliver our pledges and win the next GE (general election).”


The announcement came after she held talks with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, during which she assured him he could stay on if she won.

Sources close to Ms Mordaunt said she had made clear that she would proceed with his budget plan to get the public finances back on track, due to be announced on October 31.

Earlier Defence Secretary Ben Wallace ruled himself out as a candidate, indicating he was ready to back Mr Johnson if he entered the race.

Supporters of the former PM have been urging him to mount an extraordinary political comeback less than four months after he was forced out of Downing Street by his own MPs.

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There has been no word from Mr Johnson directly – who was holidaying in the Caribbean when Ms Truss announced her resignation on Thursday – about his intentions.

But Cabinet ministers Jacob Rees-Mogg, Simon Clarke and Alok Sharma have become the latest high-profile Tory figures to declare their support if he enters the race.

Mr Wallace – a long-time ally – said he is “leaning towards” backing Mr Johnson, praising him for his record on investing in defence and pointing to the “huge majority” he won in 2019.

He told broadcasters: “This will be potentially our third prime minister since the general election of 2019 – that means we have to think about that legitimacy question that the public will be asking themselves, and also about who could win the next election – that’s obviously important for any political party at the time.”

As well as Ms Mordaunt, Mr Johnson is likely to be up against former Chancellor Rishi Sunak – the man many of his supporters blame for bringing him down – if he does decide to run.

Suella Braverman, who was forced out as Home Secretary by Ms Truss, and International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch, are also thought to be weighing possible challenges having both stood in July.

If Mr Johnson does stand, his candidacy is likely to prove highly divisive within the party as some MPs warn they would resign the Tory whip and sit in the Commons as independents if he returns to Downing Street.

Candidates have until 2pm on Monday to secure the nominations of 100 Tory MPs if they are to get their names on the ballot paper – limiting it to a maximum of just three.

Supporters of Mr Johnson believe if he can make it to the last two, he will win in the final online ballot of party activists with whom he remains hugely popular.

However, former cabinet minister George Eustice – who now backs Mr Sunak – said he saw no way back for the former premier.

He said: “I supported him right to the bitter end, I defended him on media – day in, day out – but you can’t turn the clock back, you can’t go backwards.”

Mr Sunak won the backing of Sajid Javid, his predecessor as Chancellor who backed Ms Truss in the last race and Mr Johnson in 2019. Mr Javid said Mr Sunak has the “values our party needs” to help them “move on from the mistakes of the past”.

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