Rishi Sunak became the first Conservative leadership candidate to secure the support of 100 MPs Friday night when Boris Johnson supporters began warning of a mending.
The former chancellor reached the threshold around 10pm, according to a campaign source, which means he will be in the ballot for Monday’s vote. His team now wants the approval of the majority of Conservative MPs.
Earlier, Mr. Johnson phoned conservative lawmakers in the Dominican Republic, as a sign of how seriously he is pursuing a comeback, as the allies have called for Tory members to be given a chance to vote.
The Telegraph may reveal that Kemi Badenoch, the secretary for international trade, and Suella Braverman, the former interior minister, are considering supporting Johnson in what would be an important impetus that could unify the party’s right.
There are just over 48 hours left until the quick run-up to nominations to replace Liz Truss as prime minister, with behind-the-scenes talks and horse trading set to escalate before Monday’s 2pm deadline.
On Friday night, Mr. Sunak secured public support from 97 Conservative MPs, with Mr. Johnson second out of 52 MPs and Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the communes, on the 22nd.
Meanwhile, Johnson won the support of cabinet ministers, with Ben Wallace, the Secretary of Defense, then Simon Clarke, the Secretary to Communities, publicly endorsing him.
Ben Houchen, the mayor of Tees Valley who supported Sunak in the latest contest, also said he supports the former prime minister.
Mr. Sunak also garnered huge supporters, with Sajid Javid, the former health secretary and chancellor, voicing his support on Twitter:
However, both candidates remained silent in public – more than 24 hours after Ms. Truss resigned – with speculation about the roles each could offer the other to step back.
Mr Johnson could be back in the UK as early as Saturday. Mr Sunak, who is having back-to-back conversations with MPs in London, will declare this weekend.
Under current rules, only candidates who can get the nomination of 100 Conservative MPs – out of around 360 available – can enter the MPs’ voting time.
Mr. Johnson faces a battle to reach the threshold, with supporters saying he is on track to make it. However, critics have privately questioned whether he has the breadth of support.
If only one candidate remains standing, the online voting for Tory membership next week, with a winner announced next Friday, will not take place.
The rules were agreed on Thursday by the 1922 Committee and the Conservative Party council, but are becoming the subject of criticism from Johnson’s supporters.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the secretary of affairs who is leading Mr. Johnson’s campaign, spoke about the need for members to have a say.
He told The Telegraph: “I am always in favor of members who decide the leadership, I think it’s the right place to go. And I think the 1922 Committee and the board of directors [the] The Tory Parties have done really well to get him into a position where this can be done quickly. I am in favor of it going to members “.
Sir Jake Berry, who was previously a big Johnson supporter but is now overseeing the contest in an impartial capacity, also said he hoped party members would have a say.
The chairman of the Tory Party told the Telegraph: “This is an existential crisis for the future of the Conservative Party. As the oldest and most successful political party in history, we have to decide whether or not to believe in democracy.
“If we believe in democracy, members cannot be denied having a say in who will be the next party leader.
“We have seen two prime ministers in a row actually removed from office by parliamentarians despite winning membership. I’m afraid it might be a point where members think ‘What is really the point of being a Conservative Party member?’ “
There is a political rationale for Johnson supporters to want members to vote. Polls throughout the year indicated that he maintained a higher degree of support among the member base than the Conservative MPs, who ousted him in July.
However, Sunak’s supporters are rejecting the idea that a vote for membership should be held even if Johnson fails to win the support of 100 Conservative MPs.
“The rules were set by Sir Graham Brady [the 1922 Committee chairman] and Jake Berry. This is what will happen, “a Sunak supporter said.
There is widespread speculation among supporters of both candidates that Mr. Sunak and Mr. Johnson might strike some sort of deal.
Mr. Sunak should turn down any offer of a cabinet role during the leadership race, as he is the favorite and has resigned from a Johnson cabinet once this year.
But no categorical statement of rejection was issued, leaving a job acceptance open should Mr. Johnson truly triumph.
Mr. Sunak was urged to offer Mr. Johnson a cabinet role, such as that of Secretary of the Interior, to agree to persuade him to withdraw before any vote with the members.
Sir James Duddridge, an ally of Mr Johnson and his former parliamentary private secretary, said the former prime minister is “ready for” another race for Tory leadership.
Speaking to Sky News, he said that Mr. Johnson told him, “I’ll do it, Dudders!”
But Lord Hague of Richmond, the former Tory leader who urged Johnson to step down in July, warned the Tories would risk a “death spiral” if they brought Boris Johnson back.
“Is his return the ‘solution’? This would be turning in circles and could become a death spiral for the Conservative Party, ”she said.
“And I think it’s possibly the worst idea I’ve heard of in the 46 years I’ve been a member of the Conservative Party.”
Mel Stride, the Conservative MP who is helping lead Mr. Sunak’s campaign, outlined the case to put the former chancellor at number 10.
Writing for The Telegraph, he said, “Rishi Sunak is the best person to solve the problems we face. As a party and as a country, we have faced too much turbulence. We cannot afford to go back, we have to move forward. Rishi will fix the economy and unite the Conservative Party so that we can offer everything for all people across the UK and win the next general election.
“From Thatcher to Cameron, it’s the Conservatives who came in and fixed the mess that Labor always leaves behind. Our voters and the generations to come will not forgive us if in this very important moment we choose someone who cannot provide the best governance that the country needs and deserves ”.
Mordaunt was the first candidate to declare on Friday, posting on Twitter:
It is understood that Mr. Johnson is more likely to support Mr. Sunak than to support Ms. Mordaunt if he fails to get the necessary 100 Conservative MPs votes, although no final decision has been made.
Elsewhere, Mr Braverman and Mr Badenoch have not excluded themselves from the race, but they are discussing a joint statement for Mr Johnson, which would be a major boost to his campaign.
Both raced in the race for summer leadership, but struggled for consensus now the threshold for entry has been raised from 20 Conservative MPs to 100.
Mr. Wallace, a longtime ally of Johnson, categorically did not approve of the former prime minister, but said he was “leaning towards” him.
He told broadcasters: “This will potentially be our third prime minister since the 2019 general election – this means we need to think about that question of legitimacy the public will ask, and also who could win the next election – this is obviously important. for any political party of the time “.
Javid stated in his endorsement of Sunak that he has the “values our party needs” to help them “get over the mistakes of the past”.
“It’s time for serious, competent and value-based governance”
Johnny Mercer, the former veterans minister, also supported Mr. Sunak, arguing that voters shouldn’t be subjected to another Johnson government after last time’s “terrible” lows.
He told the BBC Radio 4 PM program: “Boris is a friend of mine, I love him a little, he’s a good guy, but I don’t think I can deal with him again. I don’t think I can ask my constituents, I don’t think I can ask my staff.
“I love Boris in pieces and he has extraordinary qualities for this country. But now is the time for serious, competent, direct and value-based governance ”.