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Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak favourites as leadership race begins in earnest

Boris Johnson is flying back from the Caribbean as he attempts to make an extraordinary comeback with Rishi Sunak said to be keen to reach a reconciliation with former prime minister.

Appointing Boris Johnson as Conservative leader would catapult the party “straight back into the pickle we were in when he was in office”, a Conservative MP has said.

Crispin Blunt, who is backing Rishi Sunak, dismissed the former prime minister’s chances for a return to No 10 as he said Johnson’s flaws had been “brutally exposed”.

But backers think Johnson is the party’s “best electoral asset” to avoid a wipe-out at the next general election.

The deep fault lines in the Tory party have been ripped back open by the fresh leadership race prompted by Liz Truss’s resignation. There are reports that allies of Johnson and Sunak have been in contact to try and reconcile, but it is likely Sunak’s campaign will frame Johnson as the wrong man for these tough economic times.

Johnson is due to fly back from his Caribbean holiday shortly. He was in effect forced to resign three months ago and is preparing to take on the former chancellor, who he blames for his removal from office, and Penny Mordaunt.

Mordaunt, the leader of the House of Commons, is said to have turned down the offer of forming a joint ticket with Sunak as she does not want to play “second fiddle” to the former chancellor.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the business secretary, is said to be helping run Johnson’s campaign and a meeting of supporters is thought to be gathering today.

However, some Tory MPs have threatened to quit or resign the whip and sit as independents if Johnson makes a comeback.

According to reports, Johnson has approached Sunak to “get back together” despite previous claims that he ran an “anyone but Rishi” campaign during the last leadership election, which was won by Liz Truss.

Sunak is also keen to reconcile even though his campaign is likely to argue that Johnson cannot be trusted with the public finances under the present circumstances.

Read more:
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak favourites as leadership race begins in earnest

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