LONDON | Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson never doubts. He missed what would have been a dramatic return to Downing Street, but immediately positioned himself for the next election.
“I am ready,” he said on Friday evening, returning urgently from vacation in the Caribbean to try to become prime minister again, just a few weeks after being chased from Downing Street by his government, tired of too many scandals and lies.
“I am well placed to ensure a Conservative victory in 2024,” he said Sunday evening, after having given up the race, at the end of a weekend where he struggled to get the necessary endorsements and tried unsuccessfully to twist the arm of the other two candidates.
In a bitterly divided Conservative Party, he said he ultimately secured 102 endorsements.
In announcing his withdrawal, Mr. Johnson explained that he had tried “in the national interest” to reach an agreement with his rivals: Rishi Sunak, his former finance minister who had slammed the door in July and whom he met Saturday evening, and Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Relations with Parliament whom he had ousted from the government in 2019.
They both refused to stand down in his favor, according to The Telegraph , and Rishi Sunak is now on a roll to enter Downing Street.
At 8 a.m. Sunday, Boris Johnson, tired by jet lag but in a suit and tie, still believes in it: he brings together around fifty declared supporters by video conference to present to them “a vision for the future”, with an approach “of unity”, according to the daily, and the commitment to manage things differently in the future, with better organization at 10 Downing Street.
“Boris has learned the lessons” from his first term at Downing Street, then tweets one of his most loyal supporters, MP James Duddridge, saying that he will focus “from day one on the needs of the country”.
“I believe I have a lot to offer, but I'm afraid it's just not the right time (…) You can't govern effectively if you don't have a united party in parliament,” explained Boris Johnson in the press release explaining his withdrawal from the race.
Without closing the door. “I believe that I am well placed to ensure a conservative victory in 2024” in the legislative elections, he added, aware that he remains popular with the base of the party.
Very rewarding speeches
In July, after being chased out of Downing Street, he had already cast doubt on a return.
“Hasta la vista baby” had -he concluded during his last question and answer session in Parliament on July 20. “Mission largely accomplished, for now,” he added.
Recently, however, he seemed to have turned the page on politics: a few days ago, he gave a 30-minute speech to an international audience of insurers in Colorado Springs in the United States, paid 150,000 dollars according to some media. He had just filed the statutes of a company, “The office of Boris Johnson Limited”.
But for Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, 58, a brilliant orator with phenomenal aplomb, the resignation of Liz Truss, after 44 calamitous days in office, was an opportunity not to be missed, although according to a YouGov poll 52% of Britons did not want him back.
The former Brexit herald, to three tumultuous years in office marked by the scandal of illegal parties in Downing Street during the anti-Covid confinement, is still the subject of a parliamentary inquiry into whether he lied to Parliament in the “partygate”.
Hearings, televised, should begin in the coming weeks. If it is found that he lied, he could be suspended from parliament where he is still an MP.
But like his hero Winston Churchill, of whom he wrote a biography, he still hopes to return one day in Downing Street.