Question Time audience member calls for Boris Johnson return
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Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman is expected to back Boris Johnson’s campaign to come back as Prime Minister as he picks up the early momentum in the leadership contest to replace Liz Truss. Express.co.uk has been told that Ms Braverman held talks with close allies yesterday about ensuring there was a candidate of the right on the final ticket to run against Rishi Sunak in a membership vote. It is also understood that she has had talks with International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch about a right-wing ticket and both are considering their options.
Ms Braverman, who spectacularly resigned as Home Secretary on Wednesday evening over a “technical breach” in sharing a Government document with another MP, is a popular candidate among Brexiteers and is still considering at the time of writing making a bid for the leadership herself.
Her departure is believed to have more to do with Ms Braverman’s insistence that the Government honours its promise to bring down net migration while Ms Truss wanted to increase it.
Because the threshold to get to the membership vote is so high, Ms Braverman, who made her name as one of the Brexit spartans to hold out against Theresa May’s compromise deal, has been warned that if she runs she is unlikely to get the 100 MPs she needs because so many have already declared for Mr Johnson, who flew home yesterday.
It means if she does run there is, according to her friends, a “danger that the right of the party will be split” and nobody will get the 100 MPs required including Mr Johnson leaving Mr Sunak in the prime spot to win in what would be a coronation.
A Rishi Sunak supporter told Express.co.uk: “If Suella backs Boris we have a problem it probably is all over.
“She will take the ERG (European Research Group) with her, that will take him over 100 and the members will probably back him even though it will be a disaster for the party.”
A close ally of Ms Braverman told Express.co.uk: “Suella is considering her options but the reality is that because Boris has built up such early momentum it will be difficult for her to get the 100 MPs needed, he has already got some of the MPs who would support her.
“Had it been a fairer threshold of 50 she would definitely run.
“But she does not want to split the right and allow a coronation of Rishi or a Rishi versus Penny [Mordaunt] run-off which would be a disaster.”
The ally added: “She is going to pick up the phone to Boris but she has been advised that he must put her back in the Cabinet if she is going to support him. That means a return as Home Secretary.”
The ally also noted: “Suella is now very popular with ordinary party members because of the tough lines she took as Home Secretary. There is no doubt she can be leader one day.”
Senior figures on the right have spoken to both Ms Braverman and Ms Badenoch in the hope to avoid the situation at the last leadership election where the two women split the vote on the right and Brexiteers were forced to back Liz Truss.
While there had been some discussions about them running as a joint ticket both have now been advised to back Mr Johnson for now.
However, it is understood that Ms Badenoch is likely to seek advice from Michael Gove who ran her campaign to be leader during the summer.
Some are concerned that the ongoing rivalry between Mr Gove and Mr Johnson could see him try to persuade Ms Badenoch to run.
One senior Tory MP said: “Kemi is very popular with the grassroots as well. Like Suella though she will struggle to get 100 nominations and would be in danger of splitting the vote.
“She is thinking things over but if she does run it could be a problem for Boris getting the 100 MPs he needs.”
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The leadership election was sparked after Ms Truss announced her resignation as Prime Minister just 44 days after taking over from Boris Johnson.
Her departure became inevitable after the fallout from her disastrous mini-budget which saw a massive devaluation of the pound, stock market collapse and her party’s opinion poll ratings dropping to historic lows.
Mr Johnson currently has the most nominations followed by Mr Sunak and then Ms Mordaunt.
None of them have formally declared their candidacy yet but are expected to do so today and over the weekend.
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