I should not have sacked Boris Johnson over affair allegations, says former Tory leader

9 June 2022, 19:08

Lord Michael Howard in retrospect doesn't think he should have sacked Boris Johnson

By Daisy Stephens

A former leader of the Tory party has told LBC he regrets sacking Boris Johnson from his shadow cabinet over allegations Mr Johnson had an affair.

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Speaking on LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, Lord Michael Howard, who was leader of the Conservative Party between 2003 and 2005, was asked about the "dishevelled-looking bloke who didn't tell the truth to your communications director".

"I think 'an inverted pyramid of piffle' was what Boris Johnson called the allegation he'd had an affair with Petronella Wyatt," said Andrew.

"And you sacked him."

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In response, Lord Howard said: "Which in retrospect I don't think I should have done."

He went on: "It was to do with his private life and I don't think I should have done it."

Mr Johnson had a four-year affair with journalist Petronella Wyatt between 2000 and 2004.

He was fired from his shadow cabinet post for lying about the allegation after initially saying it was not true.

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Boris Johnson was sacked from his shadow cabinet role
Boris Johnson was sacked from his shadow cabinet role. Picture: Alamy

Lord Howard was also asked about how Mr Johnson then went on to become Prime Minister.

"He is a political Houdini," said the former Conservative leader.

"And he has this absolutely astonishing resilience and an amazing ability to extricate himself from situations which I think would finish off other people."

When he was asked how he would have voted in Monday's no confidence vote had he still been an MP, Lord Howard said: "I'm afraid that's a question that I'm not prepared to answer.

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"I'm not in the Commons, I'm an old fogey in the Lords, and I'm content to leave these things to those who have constituencies and constituents and are therefore much more in touch with people than I am."

However he conceded that the result was not good for the Tories.

"We're obviously in for a fairly turbulent time over the next few months," he said, but added that in "one way or another it will sort itself out".

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"I don't think I can foresee which way that will happen, but there will come a point when we will be quite close to an election and if he is still Prime Minster then I think everybody will have to rally round," he said.

"If he's replaced then the new person would have to unite the party.

"So I think there will come a point where things will settle down."