Boris supporters threaten to picket Tory hustings to demand he stay in No10

22 July 2022, 12:09 | Updated: 22 July 2022, 12:10

Boris supporters bid to keep him in No10
Boris supporters bid to keep him in No10. Picture: Alamy

By Stephen Rigley

Boris Johnson's allies are threatening to picket Tory leadership hustings with a 'battle bus' in a bid to keep him in 10 Downing Street.

Billionaire party donor Lord Cruddas is behind a push for Conservative members to be allowed to decide whether Mr Johnson steps down.

It comes despite Mr Johnson announcing his intention to quit earlier this month amid a mutiny by ministers following months of sleaze.

More than 7,000 Tories - roughly four per cent of members - have signed a petition demanding a say over whether he actually leaves as planned in September.

And others are threatening to spoil their ballot papers or 'write in' Mr Johnson's name as a different sort of protest. 

Cruddas last night said that protests could greet Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak as they take part in a tour of 12 hustings in locations across the UK. 

Boris Johnson leaving No 10
Boris Johnson leaving No 10. Picture: Alamy

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Asked about a potential battle bus, he told the Telegraph: "That's a possibility. People are angry, they want to protest and members want to protest."

The campaign is being led by Cruddas and the former Tory MEP and Ukip deputy leader David Campbell Bannerman.

The petition to party co-chairman Andrew Stephenson asks for the Prime Minister to be put on the run-off ballot with Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

The appeal accuses the Tory MPs who removed him of having 'vested interest reasons and grievances to settle'.

The petition to Mr Stephenson said: "Back in 2019, Boris Johnson was elected by the membership to be our new leader.

"Now that choice has been changed without referral to the people that elected him.'You cannot disenfranchise the membership from the whole process from the beginning as this is open to abuse by the parliamentary party who may have vested interest reasons and grievances to settle against our leader.

"Morale amongst the membership is low and there is anger towards the parliamentary party. I demand Boris Johnson be added to the ballot as an option for the members to vote upon in the forthcoming election."

At his last PMQs on Wednesday, Mr Johnson dropped a hint he could attempt a political comeback, telling MPs his premiership had been "mission largely accomplished, for now".

His very final words - in which he told MPs "hasta la vista, baby" - were an apparent reference to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s catchphrase from the film Terminator.

The film is also famed for the line "I'll be back".

Asked later if Mr Johnson was already planning a political comeback - given his concluding remarks at PMQs - the PM's press secretary said: "That was his way of saying farewell to his colleagues."