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Boris Johnson’s Possible Return To Power

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Amid dire poll numbers and a growing insurgency within his own party, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing intensifying pressure from Conservative MPs desperate to reverse the party’s fortunes. With the Conservatives’ popularity plummeting, some Tory MPs are scheming to bring back Boris Johnson as leader, believing his charisma is the only way to avoid electoral wipeout. 

At the same time, some Conservatives have even suggested a pact with Nigel Farage’s Reform UK to prevent the right-wing vote from splintering. With the Tories torn between their present and past leaders, it is hard to say which leader offers a compelling vision to unite their divided base and reconnect with the British public.

Boris Johnson could make a dramatic return as Prime Minister under plans being considered by Conservative MPs. They believe reinstating the former leader is the only way to save the party from massive defeats at the next election.

The plotting comes as current PM Rishi Sunak faces a crunch vote on his policy to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. Whips are accused of threatening and bribing potential rebels to support the controversial plan.

Sunak’s enemies have drawn up what they call an “Advent calendar of s**t” – a schedule of rebellions and attacks – to undermine him further after the resignations of Suella Braverman and Robert Jenrick. One rebel MP admitted their plan is to “crash” Sunak’s government and install a new leader.

Conservative MPs are alarmed about polls showing falling support, with defections to Nigel Farage’s Reform Party. Its fortunes have been boosted by Farage’s popularity on reality show I’m a Celebrity.

The Tory plotters argue only Johnson has the appeal to neutralize Farage’s impact, particularly in working class seats in the North and Midlands that he won over at the last election.

Although cabinet minister Kemi Badenoch has also emerged as another potential leadership option.

No 10 insists Mr Sunak will lead the Tories into the next election. A Boris Johnson spokesman said: “Boris Johnson is currently writing a book and is supporting the Government.”

Mr Johnson currently sits as an independent MP after being forced out of office. But his allies believe if a Conservative MP resigned, forcing a by-election, the party machine could not block Mr Johnson from making an immediate comeback.

A party leadership contest would be triggered if 53 Tory MPs submit letters of no confidence in Mr Sunak. One idea is making a Johnson loyalist like Priti Patel a caretaker prime minister, with Boris later installed after winning a safe seat.

Although Patel has denied rumors she is actively plotting Johnson’s return, claiming “I support Rishi Sunak to deliver for the country.” But senior Tories believe if Johnson was still in parliament, he would have toppled Sunak already

In an effort to undermine the growing popularity of the Reform Party, some Conservative MPs have proposed striking a deal to give Nigel Farage and Reform leader Richard Tice positions in the House of Lords as well as government jobs, in exchange for an agreement not to compete against the Conservatives in elections.

But a source close to Mr Farage said any such deal would “soon end in tears”. Reform Party officials want to permanently demolish the Conservatives, not prop them up.

One Tory MP said: “Reform are going to kill us, so we have to buy Farage off… It may not be enough to win, but it would definitely re-energise our base, shake up the debate and give Starmer something to think about.”

Mr Johnson’s supporters argue his serious performance at the Covid inquiry improved his public standing. He spent months preparing with top aide Lord Kempsell. Mr Johnson used the hearing to apologize for the suffering of bereaved Covid families.

Johnson acknowledged that his government was slow to comprehend the immense scale of the COVID-19 pandemic when it first emerged globally. 

Testifying under oath at the UK’s inquiry into the handling of COVID-19 on Wednesday, Johnson offered an apology to the many victims of the virus and their bereaved family members for the “pain and the loss and the suffering” they endured. 

He stated he understands the anger felt by those affected by the government’s initially sluggish response as the virus rapidly spread in early 2020.

Delivering emotional testimony at the COVID inquiry on Thursday, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson strongly rejected accusations that he “didn’t care” about the suffering caused by the pandemic. 

Fighting back tears as he recounted his own hospitalization with COVID, Johnson maintained that claims he was indifferent to the crisis are “the complete opposite of the truth.” He conceded that Downing Street staff should have been more mindful of how their behavior would appear to the public during lockdowns. 

However, Johnson insisted that behind closed doors he repeatedly emphasized the importance of setting an appropriate example.

While his performance at the inquiry seemed intended to rehabilitate his image as a serious leader, it remains unclear whether the public is ready to accept Johnson back in power. 

Some like Foreign Secretary James Cleverly may try to prevent a Johnson revival. However, supporters argue his campaigning ability makes him indispensable if the Conservatives are to turn around dire opinion polls. 

As one former cabinet minister put it: “If Boris were still in the Commons, he would be back already. There would be a coronation. Just look at the polls. Boris is the best campaigner we have by a mile.”

Surprisingly, Johnson’s supporters include some of the MPs who turned against him earlier this year amid scandals over rule-breaking parties in Downing Street. But they believe only Boris has the star power to close the gap with Labour in the polls.

One Red Wall MP stated: ” I came out early to say he had to go. But I think we have to think outside the box now. Whatever you feel about him, one thing no one can question is his effectiveness as a campaigner. And we need that now, we’re staring at obliteration.”

The Conservative Party’s plummeting popularity in opinion polls is driving their current crisis, according to the report. One recent poll showed Tory support fallen below 20%, while Farage’s Reform Party was close behind on nearly 20%.

Reform Party insiders predict they will surge ahead of the Conservatives within weeks when Farage finishes his reality TV stint. They believe 5 to 10 Tory MPs could then defect to Reform, potentially making Sunak’s position as Prime Minister untenable.

Farage’s inner circle claims he will seize control of the political narrative when he returns from television. A senior Reform figure boldly told the newspaper: “We’re going to destroy” the Conservative Party.

The polls and confidence of Reform members spell danger for the Tories. Sunak could face a terminal credibility blow if Reform overtakes them and triggers an MP exodus.

The latest polling showing Reform gaining on the Conservatives is an ominous sign for Rishi Sunak’s leadership. If the party surges ahead in the polls, it could fatally undermine trust in Sunak’s capability as Prime Minister at a time when his authority is already fragile. Reform overtaking the Tories would demonstrate Sunak’s failure to reverse his party’s declining fortunes.

Additionally, if swathes of Conservative MPs lose faith and defect to Reform if it pulls ahead, it could deprive Sunak of a parliamentary majority and make his position untenable. An exodus of MPs would also suggest Sunak has lost the confidence of his own party. It would make the Conservatives look divided compared to the conviction shown by Reform members.

The increasing calls for Boris Johnson’s return reveal deep divisions within the Conservative Party. While Johnson’s maverick style won over many loyalists, his cavalier attitude toward rules also alienated key figures. Rishi Sunak represents a return to seriousness and orthodoxy. However, this lacks Johnson’s common touch with working class voters. Conservatives must unite behind the leader with the best chance of electoral success

Sunak must quickly find a way to restore Conservative popularity and close the polling gap with Reform. Otherwise, both his credibility as leader and the electability of the Conservative Party will be terminally damaged. 

Being overtaken by a protest party led by Nigel Farage would inflict enormous reputational damage on the party that Reform threatens to “destroy.” The Conservatives face an existential threat under Sunak unless they can reinvigorate their standing among voters.

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