Will there be a general election if Boris Johnson returns as prime minister?

Senior Tory MPs have warned that returning to No. 10 would see Boris Johnson leave the party in a threat to the Conservative majority in the House of Commons.

Veteran backbenchers Sir Roger Gale and John Baron have suggested they would lay down the Tory whip if the former prime minister made a shocking comeback.

Mr Johnson was due to fly back early from a family vacation in the Dominican Republic in the wake of the latest Westminster drama.

He is said to be ‘running polls’ on whether or not to stand up for the Tory leadership following the humiliating resignation of Liz Truss.

It has sparked fears of a wave of resignations among Tory MPs if Mr Johnson – who was forced out just six weeks ago amid a string of scandals – were to win a second stint as party leader.

Such an outcome could even lead to an early general election at a time when a poll has placed the Tories as much as 39 points behind Labour, their lowest score ever.

It would only take about 35 MPs to give up their support for the government in a House of Commons confidence vote to topple the Tory administration and pave the way for snap elections.

Some Tories have recently expressed fears – amid the current economic turmoil and their party’s poor polling of voters – that an electoral defeat could put them out of power for ‘a generation’.

The prospect of Johnson’s comeback is hotly contested by the ‘centrist’ wing of the Conservative Party.

According to a poll, the Tories are a whopping 39 points behind Labour, its lowest figure ever

According to a ConservativeHome count, Rishi Sunak is the current frontrunner with 35 openly declared backers among Tory MPs, while Boris Johnson has 19 and Penny Mordaunt 11

According to a ConservativeHome count, Rishi Sunak is the current frontrunner with 35 openly declared backers among Tory MPs, while Boris Johnson has 19 and Penny Mordaunt 11

Sir Roger Gale

John Baron

Veteran backbenchers Sir Roger Gale (left) and John Baron have both suggested they would lay down the Tory whip, if the former prime minister made a shocking comeback

Poll

Who do you want to be the next prime minister?

  • Boris Johnson 19604 votes
  • Rishi Sunak 8159 votes
  • Penny Mordaunt 2759 votes
  • Ben Wallace 1641 votes
  • Suella Braverman 892 votes
  • Kemi Badenoch 846 votes
  • Grant Shapps 155 votes
  • Other 3631 votes

Sir Roger, a longtime critic of the former prime minister, has urged fellow Tories to “remember” that Mr Johnson is still under investigation by a parliamentary committee over claims he lied to MPs about Partygate.

“Until that investigation is completed and he is found guilty or acquitted, there is no possibility that he will return to government,” Sir Roger wrote on Twitter.

The North Thanet MP also warned of a wave of resignations among Tory MPs should Johnson return as leader.

“I think there are people, like myself, who would be in a horrible position to give up the conservative whip,” he told Times Radio.

Mr Baron, the MP for Basildon and Billericay, also threatened to quit the Tory whip if Mr Johnson became Prime Minister again.

“I would find it very, very difficult, almost impossible – I would even find it impossible – to serve under Boris when he comes back and becomes Prime Minister,” he told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.

Simon Hoare, MP for Northern Dorset and chairman of the House of Commons Northern Ireland Committee, insisted Johnson had made “too many mistakes” to be allowed to return.

“My genuine fear/anxiety is that Boris Johnson simply has too much baggage and ‘history’ to ever allow the country, government and party to move forward and look forward,” he posted on Twitter.

“He made too many mistakes. We need a new, fresh chapter.’

Hoare is one of the MPs backing former Chancellor Rishi Sunak for Tory leadership.

Former Cabinet Secretary David Davis told LBC Johnson “should frankly go back to the beach.”

And Secretary of State Jesse Norman tweeted: “There are several very good potential candidates for the Conservative leader.

“But choosing Boris now would – and I say that on purpose – be an absolutely catastrophic decision.”

Other MPs are also making private threats to resign – or even switch – from the Tory whip if Mr Johnson returns.

“The party will tear itself to shreds under Boris,” a former MP who was loyal to Johnson told Politico. “Members of parliament are already saying they would be whipped or resigned. It just won’t wash.’

Another MP told the website: ‘I will stop Boris at all costs. If he wins, it means the end of the Conservative Party.’

A new PeoplePolling poll put Labor at 53 percent – a 39-point lead over the Tories, which fell to 14 percent.

If the Tories were hit by a wave of resignations of hapless MPs, their majority in the House of Commons could disappear in a series of by-elections.

Alternatively, if those disgruntled MPs decided to remain in the House of Commons as independents, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer could be encouraged to act on his demands for a general election by introducing a no-confidence vote.

If he, as leader of the opposition, were to do so, the convention would mean that the government would be obliged to give parliamentary time to consider the motion.

If the government loses, it could lead to a general election.

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