ominic Raab has said it is “difficult to see” how Boris Johnson could be Prime Minister again ahead of the investigation into whether he misled MPs over Partygate.
Speaking as a number of MPs pledged their support for the former Prime Minister, Mr Raab – who is backing Rishi Sunak – said Mr Johnson should not make a frontline return to politics when he is due to give evidence to the Privileges Committee in the near future.
“The big challenge for Boris is within days of a new prime minister being announced next Friday, the committee on standards and privileges is going to start taking testimony on partygate. That’s going to involve witnesses,” Mr Raab told Sky News.
“It will I assume have to involve him giving oral evidence and we need a prime minister that is focused relentlessly and consistently with a laser-like focus on the issues facing the country and I think it’s very difficult to see how Boris could be prime minister if he is absorbed and distracted by all of that.”
Mr Johnson has already secured the support of six Cabinet members – Ben Wallace, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Simon Clarke, Chris Heaton-Harris, Alok Sharma and Anne-Marie Trevelyan – but lags behind the former Chancellor who is believed to have received the backing of at least 100 MPs.
Ahead of Monday’s deadline, Penny Mordaunt is the only one of the three to have formally declared her intent to run in the race and according to reports, has the backing of just 25 MPs so far.
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Boris Johnson arrives back in UK
Former prime minister Boris Johnson has reportedly arrived back in the UK.
Mr Johnson, whose plane touched down at Gatwick Airport, had been on holiday in the Dominican Republic but has returned after telling an ally that he will run to lead the country again.
The flight was being tracked by around 7,000 users of the FlightRadar24 website.
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‘Difficult to see’ how Boris Johnson could be PM after partygate, Raab says
It is “difficult to see” how Boris Johnson could become prime minister again following the controversy over partygate, former deputy PM Dominic Raab has said.
Speaking to Sky News this morning, Mr Raab said he was “confident” Mr Sunak would run in the Tory leadership race and was the “standout candidate” among the field.
Mr Raab said that while he is “fond” of Boris Johnson and “respected him hugely”, the issues surrounding partygate could leave him “distracted”.
He said: “The big challenge for Boris is within days of a new prime minister being announced next Friday, the committee on standards and privileges is going to start taking testimony on partygate. That’s going to involve witnesses.
“It will I assume have to involve him giving oral evidence and we need a prime minister that is focused relentlessly and consistently with a laser-like focus on the issues facing the country and I think it’s very difficult to see how Boris could be prime minister if he is absorbed and distracted by all of that.
“And I say that as someone who thinks he could make a return to frontline politics and who has backed him and is personally very found him.”
Mr Raab added that in the current climate it was important the party went forward and “not back to the groundhog day of partygate again.”
Rishi will unite party, says Dominic Raab
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak already appears to have enough nominations to be a serious contender in the Conservative Party leadership election, Dominic Raab has said.
Mr Raab, who was deputy prime minister in Boris Johnson’s government, told BBC Breakfast: “I am very confident he will stand and he has already through the public declarations that have been tallied up broken through the 100 threshold for nominations.”
He added: “I think the critical issue here is going to be the economy.
“Rishi had the right plan in the summer and I think it is the right plan now.
“I think he is the best placed candidate to provide some stability, to provide confidence for the millions of workers and businesses up and down the country – but I also think he is the right candidate to bring the party together with a government of all of the talents to just relentlessly deliver for the British people whether it is on the cost of living, crime, schools or NHS.”
Pictured: Rishi Sunak leaving his home in London
Wearing a blue jumper over a white shirt and dark blue trousers, the apparent frontrunner in the race to replace Liz Truss acknowledged photographers as he got into a car
Boris Johnson is a ‘tried and tested leader’
Boris Johnson is “a tried and tested leader” and it is time that the is back in power, a Conservative MP has said.
Andrew Stephenson said there is lots of support from the public for Mr Johnson to return as prime minister and that all MPs will have to work to improve divisions within the party.
He told BBC Breakfast: “It will be the challenge for whoever is leader of the party to unite the party. I think it is important that all MPs respect the result of this election and unite behind our new leader.
“I think what we have seen in the last few days is some of the MPs who resigned and called for Boris to go at the start of the summer have now said they would like to see him put himself forward. They’ve admitted they were wrong. I know that many others are waiting for him to make a decision before they go public.
“I think Boris is someone with a proven track record who delivered Brexit, he delivered the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe. He ensured this country led the international coalition against (Vladimir) Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
“I believe he is a tried-and-tested leader and it is time to bring back Boris.”
Rishi Sunak gains more support
Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton has announced she will be backing Rishi Sunak in the leadership race. She had previously supported Penny Mordaunt over the summer.
She is joined by Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, who said Mr Sunak is the only person “who can effectively manage the economy.”
Labour MP says British public want to ‘press reset button’
Chris Bryant, a Labour MP for Rhondda and chairman of the Commons Committee on Standards, said that he believes the public want a general election to “press the reset button.”
Mr Bryant was part of the cross-party Privileges Committee which is currently investigating whether Boris Johnson deliberately misled Parliament about the parties held in Number 10. However, he withdrew himself from the committee’s inquiry as he had already publicly condemned Mr Johnson’s behaviour.
When asked about his opinion of Mr Johnson returning to high office, he said: “He’s disgraced. I mean, look, I’m a Labour MP, I don’t fancy any of the three of them. I think we’ve got to a stage now where the people of this country think the only way you can press the reset button is to have a general election.
“Penny Mordaunt voted in Cabinet or allowed in Cabinet, never said a word in Cabinet against the whole of the mini-budget that led to the economic crash that we’ve had.
“Rishi Sunak backs Boris Johnson all the way up until the very last moment, despite all the lies and of course was himself involved in ‘partygate’ and Boris Johnson is a disgraced prime minister. The biggest problem for Boris if he does get elected as leader, apart from I suspect that quite a few Conservative MPs will either cross the floor or abandon support for him.
“Frankly, as I think William Hague said, he’s unfit for office. His biggest problem is, he will be spending probably the first two months of his of his second premiership, entirely focused on the privileges inquiry, and may, at the end of it, be found to have been in contempt of Parliament, suspended from the House of Commons and potentially facing a by-election in a seat which he would lose.”
Sir Malcolm Rifkind backs Sunak because he is ‘by far the best candidate’
Former Tory MP and Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind said he backed Rishi Sunak because he is “by far the best” of the contenders available.
He told Times Radio: “I don’t know Rishi Sunak. I’ve not met him personally. So I’m not simply an automatic adherent.
“But what I do know is that during the Truss/Sunak campaign, one of the reasons Sunak lost probably was because he was brave enough to put the public interest (first) and say ‘I cannot support tax cuts unless they’re properly funded, and not while the economy’s in a mess’ and he said that and it probably cost him more votes than it gained him. But he’s been proven 100% right.
“So as a citizen affected by the way the economy may develop over the next few months, then on the people available, he is by far the best.”