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Conservative MPs 'want Boris Johnson to return as prime minister and unite with Nigel Farage' to save Tory party
10 December 2023, 07:35 | Updated: 10 December 2023, 08:45
Tory MPs have named their dream Christmas gift – the return of Boris Johnson, united in an electoral pact with Nigel Farage.
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A number of Tories have privately spoken to the pair in a bid to get them to join forces and save the party from electoral oblivion.
Opponents of Rishi Sunak have drawn up an "advent calendar of s***" in a bid to rock his premiership.
This could include more rebellions – especially with the crucial vote on Tuesday on the Rwanda migrant scheme – and more ministerial resignations, after Suella Braverman was ousted as home secretary and Robert Jenrick quit his immigration brief, saying the scheme won’t get past legal challenges.
Fearful of the Reform Party, the new name for Nigel Farage’s old Brexit Party, rebel MPs believe bringing back Mr Johnson would be the only way for the Tories to fight against their challenge from the right in the next general election.
The first stumbling block with the plan is that neither Mr Johnson or Mr Farage are in Parliament.
Mr Johnson quit after he was forced to resign as PM. However, his supporters wonder if an MP could resign a safe seat, Mr Johnson could win the by-election and then become party leader after 53 Tories trigger a leadership contest by submitting letters of no confidence in Mr Sunak.
Another option could be installing Priti Patel as a caretaker PM, then have Mr Johnson stand for a safe seat in the election, ready to become prime minister if the Tories somehow managed to reverse their terrible polling and win,
They believe Mr Farage and Richard Tice, Reform’s leader, could then be offered peerages or ministerial roles to see off their party’s threat.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman denied there were any plans to team up with Mr Farage.
“Boris Johnson is currently writing a book and is supporting the Government,” he told the Mail on Sunday.
A source close to Mr Farage, who could yet see his popularity boosted by winning I’m A Celebrity, said any agreement between the two would “soon end in tears”.
And a Reform official said Mr Farage will “start dominating the agenda” after the ITV gameshow ends.
“Within about six to eight weeks we'll be polling in the high teens, and the Tories will start to slip below 20 per cent,” they said.
“At that point between five and ten MPs will realise the game's up, and defect to us. Then it's game over.
“We're looking at the last majority Tory administration of our lifetime. We're going to destroy them.”
One Tory MP told the Mail: “Reform are going to kill us, so we have to buy Farage off. The plan is we get him into the Lords, give him some brief like we did with Cameron – maybe even Home Secretary – then go to the country with the dream team.
“It may not be enough to win, but it would definitely re-energise our base, shake up the debate and give Starmer something to think about.”
A Red Wall MP who said they were among the first to call for Mr Johnson to quit said they accepted the need to “think outside the box” and “no one can question… his effectiveness as a campaigner”.
Downing Street says Mr Sunak will win against any rebels and lead the party into the next election, which could be held as late as January 2025.