Boris Johnson’s return would plunge conservatives into Partygate’s “Groundhog Day”, former deputy warns

Boris Johnson’s former deputy warned the Tories not to plunge the country into a Partygate “Groundhog Day” by bringing it back to Downing Street as prime minister.

Dominic Raab was speaking as Mr. Johnson returned from a Caribbean vacation to London, where he is expected to pitch an offer to succeed Liz Truss as Prime Minister in what would be an extraordinary comeback less than two months after leaving office.

The former Deputy Prime Minister said the shadow of an investigation into the contempt hanging over Mr. Johnson represented a “fundamental obstacle” to his ambition to return to frontline politics.

The commune privileges commission will soon begin live televised hearings during which the former prime minister will be accused of lying to parliament about parties violating the blockade at number 10.

And chairman of the separate municipal standards committee, Labor MP Chris Bryant, said the process could force Johnson to leave parliament in a by-election revocation within months, which means the election of another prime minister. minister.

Supporters of former Chancellor Rishi Sunak say he has already passed the parliamentary 100-nomination threshold to enter the battle for succession, while Mr. Johnson is thought to have received about half that number, including approvals from ministers of cabinet Jacob Rees-Mogg, Ben Wallace and Simon Clarke.

He told the allies he is “ready” but has yet to officially launch a campaign. Only Penny Mordaunt has so far formally thrown her hat in the ring before Monday’s deadline at 2pm.

Reports suggest that Mr. Johnson was booed as he boarded a BA flight from the Dominican Republic on Friday night.

And party greats have expressed horror at the prospect of his return, with former leader William Hague warning that he could push Conservatives into a “death spiral” and former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind describing him as ” absolutely indefensible “.

“It is perhaps the worst idea I have heard of in the 46 years that I have been a member of the Conservative Party,” Lord Hague told Times Radio.

Rating agency Moody’s downgraded its outlook for the UK from “stable” to “negative” in the wake of concerns about “increased unpredictability in decision making” in Westminster.

Longtime Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said he would consider giving up the party whip if Johnson became the leader, warning that nothing had changed since he was forced to leave.

“I should seriously consider my position where Boris Johnson leads,” Bridgen told BBC Radio 4 Today program. “I’m not convinced that I could serve on the bench if he became prime minister, knowing what we know about what he did.”

But Johnson’s famed supporter Andrew Stephenson said many of the 60 lawmakers who left government posts to protest his behavior in July now regret forcing him to leave.

“I have heard many MPs who now feel reckless in judging him before the summer, reckless in encouraging him to step down then and now they feel that this is someone who – in terms of the great national and international challenges we face – has very good judgment and therefore in a difficult time for the country we need him to come back, “said the former president of the Tories Today.

Mr. Bryant claimed that Mr. Johnson was a “disgraced” figure who was “unfit to hold office”.

And he added: “His biggest problem is that he will likely spend the first two months of his second term entirely focused on investigating privileges and, ultimately, could be deemed contempt of Parliament, suspended by the House of Commons and potentially facing. to a by-election in a seat he would have lost. “

Mr. Raab said Today that the privilege inquiry was a “fundamental obstacle” to any Johnson candidacy for leadership.

“I’ve been alongside Boris, I have a lot of respect for him,” said Raab. “I simply cannot see in practice how the new prime minister, in office next Friday at the latest, can give the country the attention and focus it needs and at the same time give a witness and answer all these questions.

“We can’t go back, we can’t have another episode of Groundhog Day, the Partygate soap opera. We have to keep the country and the government going ”.

Amid speculation about a deal to reunite Johnson and Sunak in a “dream card,” Raab said he was unaware of any contact between the two.

The former foreign minister said he believed Mr. Sunak was “open” to talking to people from all over the party.

But he said, “Whether you’re a Boris fan or a Boris critic, I don’t see how you can reconcile returning to politics at the forefront with that committee looming over your head and oral testimony being heard.”

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