Boris Johnson will not be able to stage a comeback and have a second stint of being prime minister because “life just isn’t like that”, Jacob Rees-Mogg has said.
The minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency, who has been one of the Prime Minister’s staunchest supporters, said that it was not “realistic” to think that Mr Johnson could make a return to Downing Street.
Mr Johnson was forced to announce that he would be standing down after ministers resigned en masse from his government last month.
However, he has repeatedly dropped hints that he could attempt a return. Addressing MPs at what he described as “probably … certainly” his last Prime Minister’s Questions last month, he said that his “mission” had been “largely accomplished – for now”.
He bowed out with the words “hasta la vista” - a phrase meaning “see you later” in Spanish.
Appearing on GB News on Saturday, Mr Rees-Mogg was asked whether Mr Johnson wanted to make a comeback.
“Nobody's come back having lost the leadership of the party since Gladstone,” Mr Rees-Mogg replied. “And I just don't think in modern politics, the chance of coming back is realistic.
“Lots of people think they're going to be called back by a grateful nation which is why Harold MacMillan waited 20 years before accepting his peerage… Life just isn't like that.”
Criticism of civil servants working from home
In the interview, Mr Rees-Mogg claimed that Mr Johnson’s downfall was partly the result of anti-Brexit campaigners - even though a number of Brexiteer MPs, such as Steve Baker, called for his resignation.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: “There's a lot of people who resent the fact we left the European Union. And therefore to bring down the standard bearer of Brexit was a triumph for them.”
He also criticised civil servants who were continuing to work from home, claiming that in some offices, only about 10 per cent of officials were in.
“This week I went to the government office in Canary Wharf,” he said.”They have 400 desks on one floor and I'd be surprised if there were 40 people working there.”
“We need to stop accepting excuses," he said. "To begin with, it was the end of Covid restrictions, then it was Easter, then it was the Jubilee, then there was a rail strike, then it was hot.”
He added: “Now what's the excuse now? Oh, no, it's August, so no one can possibly - we're becoming French.”