Boris Johnson ‘believes he’ll be back as prime minister next year’

Boris Johnson told MPs at his final Prime Minister’s Questions earlier this week: ‘Hasta la vista, baby’ - Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Boris Johnson told MPs at his final Prime Minister’s Questions earlier this week: ‘Hasta la vista, baby’ - Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Boris Johnson privately believes he will be back in office next year, despite announcing his resignation after MPs rose up against his leadership two weeks ago.

Tim Montgomerie, a former aide to Mr Johnson who has since been critical of him, said he had been told by sources close to the Prime Minister that he was convinced he would be back.

In a well-sourced post on social media, Mr Montgomerie wrote: “Boris is telling aides that he’ll be PM again within a year.”

Mr Johnson told MPs at his final Prime Minister’s Questions earlier this week: “Hasta la vista, baby” and said it was “mission largely accomplished – for now”.

It comes as a row broke out among senior Conservatives about a campaign among party members to allow them a vote on whether Mr Johnson should continue as Prime Minister.

By Friday night, 7,600 members – all of whom have given their membership numbers – had signed a petition calling for the vote.

Lord Cruddas of Shoreditch, the former party treasurer who organised the petition, said “several MPs” had started to “make noises” about supporting his campaign.

Michael Fabricant, a Johnson loyalist, became the first MP to support the “Bring Back Boris” campaign, telling The Telegraph: “MPs have clearly misread the mood of the party membership on this and so many other matters.

“If I thought Boris were keen – despite the treachery of his ministers – to carry on, I would support Peter Cruddas’s campaign in the blink of an eye.”

One Cabinet minister loyal to Mr Johnson was also supportive, saying: “There is complete and utter despair and disbelief at what has happened.

“It is no wonder that the grassroots members feel their voices have been cancelled out by a minority in the Parliamentary party. These are the same people who year after year, decade after decade, have chosen to silence the membership of the Conservative Party for their own preferment and betterment. And that is wrong.”

The worry now will be that if more MPs come out in support of the campaign to bring back Mr Johnson it will undermine the leadership contest between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

As many as 50 Conservative MPs attended a lunch at Chequers with him last Sunday.

However, senior Tories broke cover to urge urging the membership to move on. Sir Robert Buckland, the Welsh Secretary, said: “The Prime Minister has stood down voluntarily. He is not playing any part in this leadership contest. He is not a candidate.

“The focus now is on bringing the party together and winning the next election under a new leader.”

Former minister Steve Baker said it was time for Mr Johnson to step in before the Government collapsed in what he described as a “Trumpian disaster”.

Mr Baker, who is backing Ms Truss in the leadership contest, said: “I implore members backing this campaign to think what would happen if they won and Boris continued as Prime Minister – the Government would immediately collapse.

“Whether we like it or not, Boris can only form a government because he is stepping down. If members press on with this pro-Boris plan, they just get Rishi. Certain individuals who dislike both candidates cannot deliver us into a Trumpian disaster of dysfunctional government.

“I hope Boris will thank Lord Cruddas for his support but will confirm that he does now need to give way. The political stability of the UK rests on this. I see no alternative than for Boris to pop this bubble before we have another political disaster.”

Number 10 declined to comment on Mr Montgomerie’s remarks or Lord Cruddas’s campaign.