A summary of today's developments
Rishi Sunak, who has yet to declare whether he will enter the race to become the next prime minister, has the support of 126 Tory MPs, according to the Guardian’s tally. Boris Johnson has the backing of 55 MPs and Penny Mordaunt, the only candidate to declare her interest publicly thus far, has 24.
Kemi Badenoch announced she is supporting Rishi Sunak to replace Liz Truss as prime minister. In an article for the Sunday Times, Badenoch, secretary of state for international trade, writes: “Mrs Thatcher won the public’s trust and three elections in a row by making it about us, not about her. We need someone who can do the same. I believe that person is Rishi Sunak.”
The former Brexit minister David Davis pledged his support for Rishi Sunak.
Steve Barclay, Boris Johnson’s former chief of staff, tweeted his support for Rishi Sunak.
The former cabinet minister David Frost announced he is backing Rishi Sunak.
A meeting between Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson took place tonight in London, sources told the BBC and Sunday Times.
The former home secretary Priti Patel is backing Boris Johnson. She said the events of recent weeks have been “painful” for the Conservative party and that it must unite behind the winner of this week’s leadership contest “to restore our reputation for financial discipline” and deliver on its election manifesto commitments.
The veteran Tory MP Sir Roger Gale said he will “resign” from the Conservative whip if Boris Johnson is chosen as the next prime minister. Speaking on LBC, he said he was backing Penny Mordaunt but would be “equally content to row in behind” Rishi Sunak.
Conservative chairman Sir Jake Berry has called for the party’s members to have a say on the next leader.
He told the Telegraph: “This is an existential crisis for the future of the Conservative party…
“If we believe in democracy, members cannot be denied a say on who the next leader of the party is.”
He added: “Politics is not delivered in this country by 650 MPs sat in Parliament; it is delivered by thousands of Conservative councillors up and down the country who deliver elections for the party.”
The front of the Observer.
The Sunday Mirror splash.
The front of the Sun.
The Sunday Telegraph’s front.
Here is a roundup of some of the front pages of the Sunday papers, starting with the Sunday Times.
Families are paying more than £530 extra for their mortgage than at this time last year, analysis by the Labour party shows.
Laying the blame with Liz Truss’s “disastrous premiership”, Labour said a family with a mortgage on the average property are paying £537 a month more than they would have 12 months ago.
Lisa Nandy MP, shadow levelling up secretary, said tens of thousands of families will be paying higher mortgages for years “because the Conservatives crashed the economy”.
A Treasury spokesperson said: “Growth requires confidence and stability.
“A central responsibility for any government is to do what is necessary for economic stability, and we have done so.
“But the UK’s long-term economic prospects remain positive as we deliver our mission for growth, and according to the IMF the UK is on course to have the fastest growth in the G7 this year.”
Lord Ashcroft, the former deputy chairman of the Conservatives, has shared his thoughts on the leadership race.
Suella Braverman has been personally “heavily courted” by both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, and is likely to decide who to back for the Tory leadership on Sunday, an ally of the former home secretary told the PA news agency.
The chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, is considering up to £20bn of tax rises in a budget that is due to be set out on 31 October, the Telegraph reported.
The report, which did not cite sources, said Hunt could seek to reform capital gains rules and ditch a two-year government-funded removal of green levies from energy bills.
Rishi Sunak now has the support of 126 Tory MPs, according to the Guardian’s tally.
Boris Johnson has the backing of 55 MPs and Penny Mordaunt 24.
Chris Loder, MP for West Dorset, has backed Rishi Sunak.
A meeting between Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson has been taking place tonight in London, sources told the BBC and Sunday Times.
Andrew Lewer MP is also backing Rishi Sunak.
Justin Tomlinson MP is backing Rishi Sunak.
Marcus Fysh MP is backing Penny Mordaunt.
Senior Tories are engaged in a frantic campaign to stop Boris Johnson staging a dramatic return to Downing Street, with claims he would cause further economic damage and risk “the end of the Conservative party”, writes Michael Savage and Toby Helm.
Johnson’s team was claiming on Saturday night that he had privately secured the support of the 100 MPs necessary for entering the race, despite only 54 backing him in public. The assertion was immediately disputed by MPs and rival leadership campaign sources. Johnson released a photo of himself lobbying an MP on the phone, but his allies on Saturday night could not confirm he would officially enter the contest to win back the leadership he was deposed from just months ago.
In another day of high political drama in the race to succeed Liz Truss as prime minister, supporters of frontrunner Rishi Sunak were attempting to secure support from MPs so overwhelming that Johnson would be forced to drop out.
They believe a final indicative vote among MPs overwhelmingly backing Sunak would send a message to members not to lumber them with another leader they do not support.
Penny Mordaunt, the only MP to have so far put her hat in the ring to be PM, believes the Conservatives’ next leader must make the party want to unite.
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, she said: “The country needs a strong Conservative party. We’re the party that gets things done, that leaves the country in a better place than when we found it.
“We believe in freedom, tolerance, responsibility, compassion and patriotism. That’s why we’re always winning elections because the country believes that, too.
“It’s why we’re the most successful political party in history. We’ve delivered while in office.
“We should, each of us, remember why we put ourselves forward to serve – our passionate belief in our country, no matter what.
“You’ll find that unconditional love and patriotism wherever Conservatives meet. This is a fundamental weakness the Labour party has only recently begun to address.
“Every candidate for the leadership will tell the party it should unite. But our next leader must do more than that. They must make us want to.”
Sarah Atherton, MP for Wrexham, has pledged her support for Boris Johnson via Facebook.
Supporters of the Tory leadership contender Penny Mordaunt are poised to target “anti-Sunak” MPs should Boris Johnson pull out of the race, amid warnings that the government will descend into “ongoing warfare” should the former chancellor win the top job.
Rishi Sunak is well ahead in terms of public backers and the only one to demonstrate that he has secured the support of 100 MPs, which he needs to officially enter the race. He is likely to secure more big backers over the weekend. On Saturday he also won the support of figures previously close to Johnson – namely former Brexit minister Lord Frost and former health secretary, Steve Barclay.
Sunak and his team are now working to gain the backing of as many MPs as possible to show the strength of support in the parliamentary party and send a signal to party members, in case they are asked to vote in a leadership run-off.
Sir Greg Knight, MP for East Yorks, has backed Rishi Sunak.
The former chancellor now has the support of 123 Tory MPs, Boris Johnson has 54 backers and Penny Mordaunt has 24, according to the Guardian’s tally.
Paul Holmes, Tory MP for Eastleigh, is also team Rishi Sunak.
On her way to get a flu jab in Uxbridge town centre, Debbie Cusmans, 57, spots a reporter with a notebook. “Bring back Boris!” she shouts, with a grin and a thumbs up. “Make sure you get that in.”
We are in Johnson’s west London constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, where he has been MP since 2015. It has been a Conservative seat since its creation in 2010: he won here with a majority of 5,034 in 2017 and 7,210 in 2019, by which time he was prime minister. On Saturday, as the rumour mill raged about whether he would attempt a return to No 10, locals were contemplating a potential further spell with a PM who’s also their local MP.
Some, like Cusmans, saw that as a positive thing. The former trapeze artist said Johnson helped her when she was facing eviction a few years ago and believed he had done a good job, for both Uxbridge and the UK. “They should give him the chance of coming back. The people elected him, so let him stay,” she said. She believed Rishi Sunak, the bookies’ favourite to succeed Liz Truss, “stabbed Boris in the back. So how can we trust him?”
Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, is the latest to back Rishi Sunak.
Alun Cairns, MP for the Vale of Glamorgan, has backed Rishi Sunak as PM.
Damian Green MP has announced via Twitter that he is team Penny Mordaunt.
Tom Hunt MP has announced he is backing Rishi Sunak.
Kemi Badenoch pledges support for Rishi Sunak
Kemi Badenoch has announced she is supporting Rishi Sunak to replace Liz Truss as prime minister.
In an article for the Sunday Times, Badenoch, secretary of state for international trade, writes: “Mrs Thatcher won the public’s trust and three elections in a row by making it about us, not about her. We need someone who can do the same. I believe that person is Rishi Sunak.
“I worked with Rishi in the Treasury when he was chancellor. Like any work colleagues, we had our disagreements, which I elaborated on when we were competitors in the same contest.
“Now it is imperative that I let people know the decisions he made that I knew were absolutely right.”
Ben Bradley, the Tory MP for Mansfield, has announced he is backing Boris Johnson.
David Davis backs Rishi Sunak
The former Brexit minister David Davis has pledged his support for Rishi Sunak.
Pulling pints, playing pool, at the helm of a ship and hugging constituents: Penny Mordaunt has released a new campaign video which she said represents “the real me”.
The Conservative leadership candidate, who on Saturday was substantially trailing Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson for MP nominations, describes in a voiceover how she has spent her life in Portsmouth.
In a personal portrayal of the MP for Portsmouth North, the video describes how her mother died when she was 15 years old. “From then on I looked after my family,” she says. “We relied on the NHS during that time and I will never forget it.”
As Boris Johnson jetted in to Gatwick on Saturday morning, the hopes of the nation flew with him. It was just that those hopes, as expressed by formerly supportive newspapers, were that he never goes anywhere near Westminster again.
Rather than welcoming back a conquering hero, the front page of the once-friendly Daily Mail suggested Johnson should humbly meet his former chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and cook up a plan to unite the riven Tory factions in the House of Commons and across the country. Quite a change from the days, not so long ago, when Johnson was being hailed as a charismatic leader who had correctly called all the big decisions during the pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Tory MP Sir Robert Syms with a question on Twitter:
Gareth Johnson MP says he is team Boris Johnson.
Damian Collins, the minister for tech, has tweeted his support for Penny Mordaunt.
Graham Stuart MP has backed Rishi Sunak.
Rishi Sunak supporter Richard Holden cast doubt on whether Boris Johnson had enough support from MPs to get on the leadership ballot.
In response to a reporter pointing out that the former prime minister did not have 100 publicly declared backers, the North West Durham MP said: “It’s because they don’t exist.”
In a lengthy series of tweets, the international trade minister, Greg Hands, who has backed Rishi Sunak, said of Boris Johnson’s potential leadership bid: “People forget quickly. I don’t.
“I was with Boris late on the evening of 6th July. He offered me Northern Ireland Secretary (a position not to be thrown around lightly), if I could just show the world he could indeed form a government.
“I think he would have offered me almost anything. I refused. Indeed, as we sat there, more resignations of junior ministers, whips and PPSs were coming in.
“I told him he had to resign, as he couldn’t form a government. Doubtless others said the same. The next morning, he duly did resign.
“I have no reason to have any more confidence today that he could put together an effective government.
“Some of my colleagues think he could win a 2024 general election. But if you can’t form a workable, effective and stable government, you’ll never get to 2023, let alone 2024.
“There are many other good reasons why Boris would be the wrong choice. But being elected the leader of the largest party in parliament, but without being able to form a stable government, would be a new set of circumstances which could lead to constitutional crisis & early general election in chaotic circumstances.
“It has to be Rishi Sunak.”
Lee Anderson, Conservative MP for Ashfield, said Boris Johnson has his support after the former prime minister called him this afternoon.
In a post on Facebook which appeared to reference the slogan “Bring Back Boris”, Anderson said: “My Choice. Boris Johnson just called me. We have had a long chat about everything past and present.
“My inbox is full of BBB. I am drawing a line under it. Boris has my support.”
The Observer’s Michael Savage is hearing that the international trade secretary, Kemi Badenoch, may be about to declare her support for Rishi Sunak.
Rishi Sunak reaches more than 110 backers
As the search for the dozens of secret Boris Johnson backers continues, we’ve had several Tory MPs publicly declare their support for Rishi Sunak in the last few hours.
Here is the international trade minister, Greg Hands:
The MP for Maidstone and The Weald, Helen Grant, said Sunakwas a “great communicator with vision and gravitas”.
The former chancellor is “experienced, has good judgment and will help the country in difficult times”, Sir Oliver Heald writes.
David Simmonds says his constituents in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner have told him they want Sunak as prime minister.
The health minister Robert Jenrick says now is not the time for Boris Johnson to “take back the reins”.
Jenrick, who is backing Rishi Sunak, says Johnson will “go down in history as a consequential leader who got the big calls right”.
But “serious issues” that “engulfed” Johnson’s premiership remain unresolved, he says. He adds:
Given the breath and scale of the international and domestic challenges facing the country there can be no more distractions.
The country needs a leader who “able to make the hard and painful decisions needed to stabilise the economy”, he continues. “That man is undoubtedly Rishi Sunak.”
A source in the Rishi Sunak camp has described the claim that Boris Johnson has more than 100 backers as a desperate attempt to save face, Times radio’s Lucy Fisher reports.
The announcement by Boris Johnson’s supporters that the former PM has reached 100 backers has been greeted with some scepticism.
As we’ve pointed out, only 51 Tory MPs have publicly declared their support for Johnson. That would mean a lot of MPs have not made their backing public, many people are saying.
This is from the BBC’s Nick Robinson:
From the Evening Standard’s Nicholas Cecil:
“You wouldn’t know them, they go to another school,” writes John Stevens from the Daily Mirror.
Some MPs immediately rubbished the news, the BBC’s Chris Mason says.
This is from Times radio’s Matt Chorley:
Boris Johnson has received the backing of more than 100 Tory MPs, according to reports.
This is from Tory MP and close Johnson ally James Duddridge:
This figure does not tally with publicly recorded declarations but has been provided by the Johnson camp. The Guardian’s current tally of Johnson backers stands at 51.
The BBC’s Chris Mason has been given this figure, as has Sky.
Thousands of pro-European supporters took to the streets of London today as part of the national march calling for the UK to rejoin the EU.
It may not have been the most troubling feature of Liz Truss’s premiership, but the need to check whether she was still in office was a gathering distraction for anyone, including her cabinet colleagues, interested in who was running the country. A month ago, after the disastrous mini-budget, no one was sure if she could survive until the next election. Thereafter, the timeframe rapidly narrowed until the question was whether she would last the day.
There was a brief holiday from reality during the party conference in Birmingham, when the ship had already hit the iceberg and yet, in a surreal atmosphere of denialism, the band played on. But on Thursday, six days after she had been forced to sack her ideological soulmate Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor, and the day after home secretary Suella Braverman resigned, we got the answer.
But how did a politician with 12 years’ experience in government, almost 10 of them in the cabinet, someone who’d served as foreign secretary, international trade secretary, justice secretary, environment secretary and chief secretary to the Treasury, come to make such a historic mess of the top job?
When asked to describe Truss, two former Conservative government ministers both used the same word: weird. “She doesn’t have any friends. She’s just weird,” one said. “She sits far too close to you,” said another. “And when she talks to you, she keeps repeating your name. It’s weird.”
Here’s some reaction to the endorsement of Rishi Sunak by former chief Brexit negotiator and Cabinet Office minister David Frost.
Anushka Asthana from ITV says it’s a significant move.
The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg says Frost’s backing suggests some on the rightwing of Liz Truss’s backers are choosing Sunak over Boris Johnson.
Jack Blanchard from Politico says Frost’s endorsement will be a painful one for his former boss.
What happens next?
With nominations for the next prime minister and Conservative party leader well under way, Rishi Sunak was in the lead on Saturday, having already passed the threshold of support from 100 Tory MPs, followed by Boris Johnson and Penny Mordaunt. What happens next?
As the party prepares to choose its third leader in little more than six weeks, here’s a step-by-step guide to the process.
How will Liz Truss’s successor be chosen?
Nominations are flooding in, having opened on Thursday night, and will close at 2pm on Monday. To get to the next stage, candidates must have the support of a minimum of 100 Conservative MPs. There are 357 in total.
What happens when nominations close?
If only one candidate manages to gain the support of at least 100 of their colleagues by the deadline, then that person will become the next leader of the Conservative party and the country.
If more than one candidate passes the 100 threshold, there will be a vote among Tory MPs between 3.30pm and 5.30pm on Monday, with results announced at 6pm.
If there are three candidates, the person with the fewest votes will be eliminated and there will be a further round of votes between the final two between 6.30pm and 8.30pm, with the result announced at 9pm.
If, after that process, two candidates still remain, meaning nobody has withdrawn, the 1922 Committee – the Conservative party’s 18-member executive, which is running the process - is leaving the final decision to party members. Last time around, in September, they voted for Truss, despite Sunak leading among MPs.
This final round of voting by qualifying members, would, the party says, be done using a “secure online voting” system, with the ballot closing at 11am on Friday. The result would then be announced later the same day.
There would also be at least one hustings between the final two, expected to be broadcast by the BBC.
When will it all be over?
The winner will be declared by the end of Friday.
Could Conservative party members be left out of the process?
Leaving them out of the voting process entirely would probably require a change to the party’s constitution, but there are two ways they could not be called upon to vote. One would be if one of the last two candidates pull out, as Andrea Leadsom did in 2016 when Theresa May became leader. The second would be if only one candidate makes it above the 100-vote threshold from MPs.
Once a final candidate is settled on, how do they become PM?
The winner of the contest will become party. The King will ask them to form a government, making them Britain’s next prime minister.
Could there be a general election?
Despite calls from the Labour party, the appointment of a new prime minister does not require a general election. The next general election could officially be as late as January 2025.
Desmond Swayne, Tory MP for New Forest West, has announced he’s backing Rishi Sunak.
Swayne backed Suella Braverman during the previous Conservative leadership election, before throwing his support behind Sunak in the run-off between Sunak and Liz Truss.
The Guardian’s Philip Oltermann has shared a photo of today’s front page of the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, showing a picture of Boris Johnson with the headline simply saying: “Seriously?”
MP for South Norfolk Richard Bacon says he’s backing Rishi Sunak.
David Johnston has become the latest Tory MP to announce his support for Rishi Sunak, who he described as having the “right combination of ability, experience and judgment” to lead the country.
By our count, Johnston is the 105th MP to have publicly thrown their weight behind the former chancellor.
Boris Johnson’s former chief of staff backs Rishi Sunak
Steve Barclay, Boris Johnson’s former chief of staff, has tweeted his support for Rishi Sunak.
ITV’s Robert Peston writes that Boris Johnson may very well win if he chooses to run for the Tory leadership campaign, but whether he would win a general election is another matter.
Johnson had three advantages during the 2019 election campaign, he says: the pledge to “get Brexit done”, Jeremy Corbyn’s unpopularity, and a public sector balance sheet that made it possible for him to promise lots of public spending.
This is no longer the case. Any new campaign led by Johnson would be about his qualities and his mixed record, Peston continues. The biggest question is whether he is able to unite the party at a time when so many Tory MPs did not support him.
Lord Frost, Johnson's Brexit negotiator, backs Sunak
The former cabinet minister David Frost has announced he is backing Rishi Sunak.
Frost, who was Boris Johnson’s Brexit negotiator, said the Conservative party must “move on” and get behind a capable leader who can deliver.
The former Telegraph editor and close Boris Johnson ally Lord Charles Moore has suggested that Johnson should “sit out” the leadership contest.
In a piece published last night, Moore said the former PM should “sit this one out” partly because “there is no evidence that, as prime minister, Boris ever took care for the public finances”.
If Rishi is the investor, Boris is the entrepreneur – bolder, more individualistic, riskier. This explains why Boris was skilled at pulling off Brexit. It might make him less suitable for slowly bringing down debt, controlling inflation and developing a coherent, secure energy system.
He ends by saying:
I can see Boris storming back in different circumstances, with a Labour government in disarray and a lack-lustre Tory opposition seeking renewal. I don’t see it working right now. True Boris fans will have the courage to tell him to sit this one out.
Boris Johnson’s father, Stanley, has said a general election would be “political suicide” for the Conservative party.
Speaking on LBC, he refused to say whether he would be supporting his son if he decides to run as prime minister again.
Asked if the decent thing would be to call a general election, Johnson replied:
We don’t have rules that permit that. Suicide is pretty much illegal in most countries in the world. It’s not advisable.
Asked if he meant that the Tories would be committing political suicide if they went to an election, he replied:
I think they would, yeah.
Sir Peter Bottomley, who as father of the house is the longest continuously serving MP, has announced that he is backing Rishi Sunak.
Boris Johnson was pictured arriving at Gatwick airport, after travelling on a flight from the Caribbean.
Aaron Bell has announced he is backing Rishi Sunak because his “competence and experience” make him best placed to “rebuild trust with the British people”.
Bell was one of the Conservative MPs to submit a letter of no confidence in Boris Johnson in February.
He gave an emotional speech in the Commons saying he had driven three hours each way to his grandmother’s funeral without hugging his family or stopping for a cup of tea. “Does the prime minister think I’m a fool?” he asked.
Dominic Raab has said he does not understand how Boris Johnson’s leadership bid can be reconciled with a pending Standards Committee hearing.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the former deputy prime minister and Rishi Sunak supporter said:
We cannot have another episode of the Groundhog Day, of the soap opera, of partygate. We must get the country and the government moving forward.
Rishi Sunak passes 100 declared backers
As of 11.10am, the Guardian has counted over 100 public nominations for Rishi Sunak. Boris Johnson has 49 backers and Penny Mordaunt is currently on 22.
Here is a rundown of those who have publicly thrown their weight behind their preferred potential candidate:
The leader of the Commons, Penny Mordaunt, says she “knows about the cost of living and how frightening it can be” in her campaign video. Mordaunt says she joined the Conservative party because she “believed in its principles and its values”.
The Guardian’s Peter Walker points out her narration doesn’t quite match the subtitles for the video.
As Mordaunt says: “My community has always helped me. It was natural that I wanted to help it in return,” the subtitles read: “That’s why my first action as prime minister will be to cut the cost of fuel”.
Presumably this is because Mordaunt has since dropped this plan since she last ran during the summer, Peter writes.
Priti Patel: Boris Johnson has 'track record of getting big decisions right'
Here’s the full statement from the former home secretary Priti Patel on her backing of Boris Johnson.
She says the events of recent weeks have been “painful” for the Conservative party and that it must unite behind the winner of this week’s leadership contest “to restore our reputation for financial discipline” and deliver on its election manifesto commitments.
Boris has a proven track record getting the big decisions right, standing up for Ukraine and our values, and delivering on the people’s priorities. From the successful vaccine rollout to investing in levelling up, and from delivering more police on our streets to getting Brexit done, Boris has the leadership qualities, democratic mandate and optimism to get our country through these challenging times.
I’m backing Boris to return as our prime minister, to bring together a united team to deliver our manifesto and lead Britain to a stronger and more prosperous future.
Here’s a clip of Boris Johnson’s plane landing at Gatwick Airport this morning.
Priti Patel backs Boris Johnson
The former home secretary Priti Patel has announced she is backing Boris Johnson for leader.
More than 7,000 people tracked the BA flight carrying Boris Johnson and his family back to the UK from a holiday in the Dominican Republic.
ITV News’ Chris Ship wonders if some of them were Johnson’s constituents wondering why he was on holiday in the first place.
Since he resigned as prime minister in early July, Johnson appears to have been on three foreign holidays.
In August the Johnsons travelled to Slovenia for a stay in a five-star eco-hotel in the Kokra Valley, where rooms cost between £242 and £542 a night. The trip was described as a mini-moon to mark their wedding celebrations.
Days later they headed to Greece for a family holiday and reportedly boarded a private island hopper boat to the island of Evia, before travelling to Nea Makri, a coastal town nearby.
Tory MP Maria Miller said Boris Johnson must be thinking about whether it is “appropriate” he should enter the leadership contest as he still faces a privileges committee investigation.
Miller, who is backing Penny Mordaunt, told BBC Breakfast:
I certainly think that Boris Johnson would be thinking very long and hard as to whether it would be appropriate to put himself forward to lead our country at a time where ... he is still subject to a very serious privileges committee investigation which could ultimately lead to him having to resign as minister.
I am sure he, who has put our country first in his life even when he was sick and in hospital during the pandemic would not want to jeopardise the stability of our country, again that is why I am supporting Penny Mordaunt because I think she brings that stability.
Penny Mordaunt has posted her leadership campaign video which she says shows “the real me”.
Boris Johnson arrives back in UK
Boris Johnson’s plane has landed in London Gatwick as he returns to the UK from his holiday in the Dominican Republic.
The flight was being tracked by around 7,000 users of the FlightRadar24 website.
Tory MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale David Mundell has declared he is backing Rishi Sunak.
The former Conservative foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind said reinstating Boris Johnson would be the “worst example” of putting the party’s interest ahead of the public interest.
During his tenure as prime minister, Johnson “showed no interest” in economic policy, he told Times Radio. He said:
What would make it utterly indefensible is that the, if not the only, reason, or certainly the main reason, why some MPs and party activists are encouraging that is that Boris Johnson would have a better chance than other leaders that are winning the next general election.
I’ve never heard a worst example of putting the party’s perceived interest, because it might not even be true, but putting the party’s political interests before the public interest. And I will happily explain why, in my judgment, the public interest could not remotely be served by the return of Boris Johnson.
He said he backed Rishi Sunak because he is “by far the best” of the contenders available. He continued:
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.
Cat Neilan from Tortoise quotes a Tory MP as saying that Rishi Sunak will not declare a leadership bid if Boris Johnson receives the backing of more than 100 MPs.
Johnson, Mordaunt or Sunak: who is backing whom as next Tory leader
The number of publicly declared MPs who are backing potential candidates for the Conservative leadership is growing, with three key figures emerging: the former chancellor Rishi Sunak, the former prime minister Boris Johnson, and Penny Mordaunt, the current leader of the House of Commons. Each candidate will need at least 100 signatures to make it to the first round of voting on Monday.
As of 9am on Saturday, Sunak was leading the field having received close to 90 public nominations.
Here is a rundown of those who have publicly thrown their weight behind their preferred potential candidate:
Kevin Schofield from HuffPost UK has been told that many Tory MPs are unhappy with Jacob Rees-Mogg’s #BorisOrBust slogan.
The former minister Tim Loughton criticised the hashtag yesterday, asking “how on earth” such a slogan could be helpful to the party.
‘God help us’: Tory MP ‘will resign from whip’ if Johnson wins
The veteran Tory MP Sir Roger Gale said he will “resign” from the Conservative whip if Boris Johnson is chosen as the next prime minister.
Speaking on LBC, he said he was backing Penny Mordaunt but would be “equally content to row in behind” Rishi Sunak. He said:
I was a member of the Conservative party before Mr Johnson was born. I shall die a Conservative. My wife and I have given over 100 years of service to the party. I’m not going to quit the Conservative party. But if Mr Johnson were to be elected, God help us, as the prime minister I would have to resign the Conservative whip.
The party needs a candidate that can lead a team and who is a team player, he continued. Johnson “is utterly divisive”, he said:
He will not unite the party and my colleagues, particularly my younger colleagues, need to remember that there’s going to be a hearing of the privileges committee that’s starting in November in some weeks. Do we seriously want that distraction on the front pages of all of the national newspapers every day for several weeks? What damage is that going to do to the unity of the party? It’s unthinkable.
Tory MP Andrew Stephenson says “it is time to bring back” Boris Johnson and he is “still the right man for the job”.
Johnson “got the big judgment calls right” during his time as prime minister, Stephenson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. He said:
I am one of a number of MPs urging him now to put his name forward to think about putting his name forward, because he’s popular with party members, but also I think he’s got the big judgment calls right. Not only did he deliver us that historic victory in the 2019 general election, but getting Brexit done, in delivering the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe, in standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies in Ukraine.
He said he had been stopped in a supermarket in his constituency of Pendle on Friday by people saying “we want Boris back”.
Tory MP John Lamont has, as expected, tweeted his backing of Penny Mordaunt for leader.
The Conservative former deputy prime minister Dominic Raab said he was “confident” Rishi Sunak would run and was the “standout candidate” in the field.
He said Sunak had been “consistently right” on the economy in the face of the “fundamental” economic challenges the country faces as well as the “crisis of confidence and trust” in the government. Raab told Sky News:
I think again he is the best-placed candidate to restore that trust, get a government of all the talents across the Conservative party and get the government focused relentlessly on going forward on the priorities of the British people.
Rishi Sunak has been pictured leaving his London home.
Boris Johnson has been criticised for holidaying in the Caribbean instead of serving his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituents while parliament was in session.
So where has he been? At the five-star Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic owned by a Cuban-origin agriculture and tourism conglomerate.
Dominican Today lists previous guests including DJ David Guetta, the Kardashian family, and singers Beyoncé, Jay Z, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and Drake.
Penny Mordaunt, who was the first to formally announce her leadership bid, says she will be “a fresh voice and unite the party”.
Tory MP Caroline Nokes says she is backing Rishi Sunak for leader.
Nokes supported Penny Mordaunt during the summer Conservative party leadership race.
While we’re on the subject of the committee inquiry into Boris Johnson, the Labour MP and chair of the Commons committee on standards, Chris Bryant, says the committee will start sitting very soon.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said he expects the committee to meet “several times a week” for several weeks to hear from witnesses, the Sun’s Kate Ferguson writes.
Bryant, who withdrew himself from the committee’s inquiry as he had already publicly condemned Johnson’s behaviour, said he believes the public want a general election to “press the reset button”.
Asked about his opinion of 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.
Dominic Raab: Tories could go 'backwards' under Johnson
The Tory former deputy prime minister Dominic Raab has warned that the Conservative party could find itself going “backwards” if Boris Johnson returned to Downing Street.
Raab, who is backing Rishi Sunak for leader, said he “had a lot of respect” for Johnson and insisted he could eventually make a return to frontline politics”.
He could not however see how Johnson would be able to serve as prime minister while he is still under investigation by the Privileges Committee for potentially misleading MPs about parties held in Downing Street during lockdown.
Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
I just can’t see in practice how the new prime minister, in office latest next Friday, could give the country the attention [and] the focus it needs, and at the same time be giving testimony and answering all of those questions.
I don’t say it with any relish. I’m sad about that situation. I defended Boris and I continue to think he can make a return to frontline politics. But whether you’re an arch-Boris fan or an arch-Boris critic, I don’t see how you can reconcile making a return to frontline politics with that Committee hanging over and oral testimony being heard.
We cannot go backwards. We cannot have another episode of the Groundhog day, of the soap opera, of Partygate. We must get the country and the government moving forward.
Boris Johnson is reportedly on flight BA2156 from the Dominican Republic to London Gatwick.
He’s currently due to land at 10:12 am, where he is expected to say whether he intends to join the leadership race. That can only mean one thing… that’s right, the flight tracker is back.
Johnson ‘booed on plane’ back to UK
Boris Johnson was spotted last night on a British Airways flight from the Dominican Republic to London Gatwick, amid reports that he plans to join the Tory leadership contest.
He’s reportedly sitting in economy class with his wife Carrie and their children, on the flight with the callsign BA2156. It is due to land at around 10.30am today.
Sky’s Mark Stone said Johnson was booed by other passengers as passengers boarded the plane.
He boarded before everybody else, on his own with his wife and two children. There was a mixed reaction, he was behind a glass area, as we were waiting inside the gate, we saw him the other side of the glass, there was a few boos, a few people looking slightly bewildered.
I think there was an expectation of some of the holidaymakers here that he would be on the plane, but there was one or two boos, he wouldn’t have heard them because he was on the other side of the glass.
Welcome and summary
Good morning. Rishi Sunak became the first Tory leadership candidate to reportedly secure the backing of 100 MPs needed to go through in the race on Friday night.
Boris Johnson is on his way back to London from his Caribbean holiday to drum up support among MPs in his audacious bid to return to Downing Street.
Neither Johnson nor Sunak have yet formally declared, while Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the House of Commons, became the first to announce she was standing on Friday.
I’m Léonie Chao-Fong and I’ll be taking you through the latest in British politics for the next few hours. You can get in touch with questions or comments on Twitter or by email.
In the meantime, Here is where things stood on Friday evening:
Rishi Sunak reportedly has the backing of the 100 MPs needed to go through in the race. He is yet to formally declare his candidacy, and the Guardian’s count has him on 88 MPs, but Tobias Ellwood claimed that he had helped the former chancellor cross the threshold.
Among Sunak’s backers to declare on Friday were Matt Hancock, Tom Tugendhat and Sajid Javid.
Boris Johnson is on his way back from a holiday in the Dominican Republic, as he trails Sunak. The former prime minister has already secured the backing of six cabinet ministers, including Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Johnson was reportedly booed as he boarded the plane home, according to Sky News. He is due to land at London Gatwick at around 10.30am today.
A Johnson-supporting MP has said Johnson told him he is “up for it” and will fly back to the UK from his Caribbean holiday to stand in the Tory leadership contest.
Lord William Hague, the former Conservative party leader, has said that Johnson’s election would send the party into a “death spiral”.
Former Daily Telegraph editor and biographer of Margaret Thatcher, Lord Charles Moore, who is an ally of Johnson has urged him not to run in the contest and “sit this one out”.
Penny Mordaunt officially launched her leadership bid, saying she had been “encouraged by support from colleagues who want a fresh start, a united party and leadership in the national interest”.
Polling by Opinium suggests that in a general election, the public would vote for Sunak over Mordaunt and Johnson, and that Mordaunt would also beat Johnson.