Dorries dismisses Boris’ election comeback amid claims Sunak will ‘deploy ex-PM' in Red Wall to avoid Tory 'wipeout'

12 March 2024, 19:35 | Updated: 12 March 2024, 19:46

Boris Johnson will be deployed to campaign in the Red Wall
Boris Johnson will be deployed to campaign in the Red Wall. Picture: LBC

By Danielle De Wolfe

Former Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has dismissed rumours of a hasty return to campaigning for Boris Johnson, amid reports he will be deployed to campaign for the Tories in the Red Wall ahead of the next election.

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Speaking on LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, the former Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire dismissed rumours of a Sunak-Johnson reconciliation amid "dangerous" polling by the Tories against Reform UK.

Calling the reports “a great PR move” by the Tories, she added the rumours were simply a bid to "keep Lee Anderson off the front pages".

It follows fellow MP Lee Anderson's defection from the Conservatives to Reform UK on Monday.

Johnson, who was forced out of No10 by his party in 2022, was said to be 'deployed' in marginal seats in the Red Wall in a bid to maintain some of the majority he sustained during the 2019 election according to The Times.

Rubbishing the idea that Boris Johnson could "crash around constituencies without some kind of formal arrangement" being in place, Dorries told Andrew Marr that the PM and Johnson "are not best friends" and "had not spoken".

Nadine Dorries says that Wellingborough by-election could be 'seismic moment' for Tories

However, she added that the party was in a “very dangerous position” and said the story would calm Tories thinking of defecting.

“If we drop much further and we become neck-and-neck with reform, then that’s wipeout for the conservatives," she added.

Johnson and No10 were said to have held 'positive discussions' about a role, The Times reported, though it did not indicate that his rift with Rishi Sunak has been settled.

It added that it remains "highly unlikely" that Johnson will attempt to come back as an MP at the next election after he furiously quit last year.

However, Dorries asserted that despite Johnson being "a winner” who has "conservatism running through his veins", it's highly unlikely the former PM would make a comeback anytime soon.

"Why would he want to save the backsides of MPs who removed him as Prime Minister?” said Dorries.

LBC Views: Lee Anderson's defection shows the deep Conservative divide as Sunak's authority crumbles, writes Daisy Cooper MP

Read more: Tory donor's comments about Diane Abbott were ‘racist and wrong’, Rishi Sunak says

'We absolutely see eye to eye...and together we are going make a real difference' says Reform's Richard Tice of Lee Anderson

Describing Sunak as "riding on the coat tails of 10 years of Boris Johnson’s work,” Johnson's loyal ally added that the PM was now "losing on a daily basis”.

She added that Boris “won’t care about an apology" and simply wants to “limit the damage” that's been brought about “by his removal” as PM.

It comes amid warnings that the Tories could be 'wiped out' at the next election after a recent poll predicted they could be left with just 25 seats after the next election.

There is particular concern among the Conservatives that the so-called 'Red Wall' built up in the north of England could be dismantled.

Lee Anderson's decision to defect from the Tories to Reform UK to stand as an MP for the party in Ashfield was seen as a further warning sign over the Conservatives' electoral prospects in the north.

Reform UK's leader, Richard Tice, told LBC's Andrew Marr yesterday that his party will aim to "destroy" the Tories after the next election.

Caller: ‘Lee Anderson is a Midlands version of Donald Trump.’

Speaking exclusively to LBC's Andrew Marr, Mr Tice said: "Lee and I absolutely see eye-to-eye.

"He's a man of principle and integrity who feels that the two main parties have moved far away from his principles, what he stands for, and together we're going to try and make a real difference.

"He's our champion of the Red Wall and I've said very clearly today that in this coming election and the election afterwards, we are looking to replace the Tory party in the Red Wall as the main alternative to Labour."

Richard Tice with the new Reform UK MP, Lee Anderson.
Richard Tice with the new Reform UK MP, Lee Anderson. Picture: Alamy

At a Reform UK press conference earlier today, Mr Tice, leader of the Nigel Farage-founded party, announced Mr Anderson had defected to his party.

Mr Anderson said he had done "a lot of soul searching," but had come to the conclusion he must defect to Reform UK.

"I want my country back," he told the assembled reporters.

It comes amid rumours that there are as many as nine Tory MPs that are ready to defect to Reform UK as they fear a Conservative wipeout at the next election.

But Mr Tice was keen to play down any suggestion of this, telling LBC that he would not provide a "running commentary on conversations he had had with Tory MPs".

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