BORIS Johnson has landed back in the UK after gaining support to be the next Prime Minister.
He’s got several big hitters behind him in the fight for the keys to No10 – but Rishi Sunak still leads the race.
Boris Johnson, arriving at Gatwick Airport, is eyeing the mother of all political comebacks after Liz Truss resigned[/caption]
Carrie Johnson leaving Gatwick after landing from the Dominican Republic[/caption]
Rishi Sunak, leaving home today, currently holds a lead over Boris Johnson in a bid to become PM[/caption]
The former Chancellor has been backed by more than 100 Tory MPs meaning he can officially be in the running for leadership.
He is the first to reach the threshold after storming ahead against BoJo and Penny Mordaunt.
There are currently 114 who have publicly backed Mr Sunak, 115 including himself, and 119 MPs in total including those who have shown support behind the scenes.
Former PM Boris has 55 public backers, 56 including himself, and 71 in total, while Commons Leader Ms Mordaunt trails behind with 22 public endorsements, 23 including herself, and 25 in total.
Read more UK news
Neither leadership hopeful has formally declared they’re running for the role, but behind the scenes campaign operations are in full swing.
Ms Mordaunt yesterday became the first MP to formally launch a leadership big.
In a post on Twitter the Commons Leader said: “I’ve been encouraged by support from colleagues who want a fresh start, a united party and leadership in the national interest.
Most read in The Sun
“I’m running to be the leader of the Conservative Party and your Prime Minister – to unite our country, deliver our pledges and win the next general election.”
Team Boris yesterday received a major boost as Ben Wallace declared he’s “leaning towards” backing the former PM.
The Defence Secretary ruled himself out of the race, despite being popular with the Tory grassroots.
He said: “At the moment I would lean towards Boris Johnson. I know when I was Secretary of State for Defence he invested in defence, he supported me and the actions this country has taken to keep us safe.”
Levelling Up Secretary and Middlesbrough MP Simon Clarke also backed Boris.
He said: “Teesside has had difficult times and is now levelling up because of Boris Johnson.”
And today, ex-Home Secretary Priti Patel added her name to the list of Boris backers.
Mr Sunak was bolstered with an endorsement from fellow former Chancellor Sajid Javid.
The Tory heavyweight, who had a shot at running for leader last time round, said: “Our responsibility as public servants is to make decisions in the national interest, especially at a time like this.
“It’s abundantly clear that Rishi Sunak has what it takes to match the challenges we face – he is the right person to lead our party and take the country forward.”
Wannabe PMs need the backing of at least 100 Tory MPs by 2pm next Monday to make the first leadership ballot.
Timeline for choosing the next PM
Thursday October 20
6pm: Nomination papers to be PM open. Nominations will need the name of 100 Tory MPs
Monday October 24
2pm: Nominations close
2.30pm: Hustings for candidates who win 100 backers
3.30pm: First MP ballot takes place
6pm: Result of first ballot announced
6.30pm – 8.30pm: Second ballot (if required)
9pm: Announcement of top two candidates
Tuesday October 25
Ballot opens up to Tory members if two candidates are still standing
The winner of the members ballot and new PM is announced
Jacob Rees-Mogg was the first cabinet minister to pledge support for a candidate – confirming he’s backing long time friend Mr Johnson.
Allies of Boris last night said he could form a potent partnership with Mr Sunak — with Boris as the successful campaigner and his ex-neighbour as his deputy, stabilising the economy.
But the pair would have to make peace after months of feuding, which also saw Boris back Ms Truss for the leadership.
Boris also has the shadow of a parliamentary investigation looming over him.
The Privileges Committee is pushing ahead with an inquiry into whether the ex-PM lied to the Commons about Partygate.
If found guilty Boris could face being suspended.
Friends of Mr Sunak say that while he wants to bury the hatchet with his old boss, he aims to become PM to get on with the task of rebuilding the battered economy.
The ex-PM was understood to be enjoying surf and sunshine at the luxury Casa De Campo resort in the Dominican Republic but flew back to Gatwick, landing this morning.
Allies including his “Mr Fixit”, MP Nigel Adams were last night making frantic calls to build his support base, believing he is the only candidate who can avoid a wipeout at the next election.
Boris-backer Tory MP James Duddridge said: “I hope you enjoyed your holiday, Boss. Time to come back. Few issues at the office that need addressing.”
The ex-PM’s dad Stanley Johnson told Good Morning Britain today that his son is “extremely well placed” to lead again.
“I have exchanged messages with him – I am absolutely unaware of what his intentions are,” he added.
A bombshell poll today from Opinium revealed that Mr Sunak is the favourite to be the next Conservative leader and PM among the public.
Read More on The Sun
The ex-Chancellor beats Boris 44 per cent to 31 per cent, and leads against Ms Mordaunt 45 per cent to 23 per cent.
Meanwhile, a new poll by YouGov this afternoon showed Sir Keir Starmer would beat all three leadership hopefuls in an election, but Mr Sunak would be the toughest competition.
Boris’ plane landing back in the UK[/caption]
Penny Mordaunt has formally launched her leadership bid[/caption]
Boris Johnson pictured on holiday in the Dominican Republic[/caption]