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UK new PM race: Rishi Sunak crosses 100 MPs mark, Boris Johnson eyes comeback

Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson have not officially declared their intentions to run for Prime Minister, with only Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt doing so. 

UK new PM race: Rishi Sunak crosses 100 MPs mark, Boris Johnson eyes comeback - adt
First Published Oct 22, 2022, 3:53 PM IST

The supporters of Rishi Sunak claimed that the Indian-origin former chancellor had crossed the 100-member threshold required to make the shortlist for the race to replace Liz Truss as Conservative Party leader and British Prime Minister on Saturday. 

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly flying back from his Caribbean vacation to join the 42-year-old frontrunner's tally.

Sunak and Johnson have not officially declared their intention to run for Prime Minister, with Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt, the only candidate to do so.

However, the former finance minister has taken a comfortable lead, with some heavyweight Tory ministers and MPs from various Tory factions throwing their support behind him, and betting odds continue to rise in his favour.

While talking to BBC, former deputy prime minister Dominic Raab said," Rishi had the right plan last summer, and I believe he has the right plan now." He continues, "I believe he is the best-positioned candidate to provide some stability and confidence to the millions of workers and businesses across the country."

Raab warned against a comeback by Johnson, the party gate scandal-hit former Leader, just over three months after being forced to resign, noting that the UK Parliament is still investigating whether he misled the Commons about the lockdown law-breaking parties at Downing Street.

"We cannot go back in time. We cannot have another episode of Groundhog Day, a soap opera, or a party gate. We must move the country and government forward," he said. 

It came as Johnson was photographed on a flight back to London from the Dominican Republic with his wife and children, having indicated to allies his intention to run for Prime Minister again.

The number of MPs publicly supporting his comeback is around 45, but his supporters are confident that he will reach the 100-MP threshold by 2 pm local time on Monday to make the shortlist.

If only one candidate is left standing by Monday, the online Tory membership vote scheduled for next week for a winner to be announced on Friday will be cancelled.

Meanwhile, there is widespread speculation among supporters of both candidates that Sunak and Johnson may reach an agreement.

Sunak is expected to reject any offer of a Cabinet position during the leadership race, given that he is the frontrunner and has already resigned from the Johnson government this year, according to The Daily Telegraph.

However, no categorical statement of rejection has been issued, leaving the door open for a job offer if Johnson is victorious. Sunak is urged to offer Johnson a Cabinet position, such as home secretary, to persuade him to abstain from voting with Tory members.

Sunak had stormed ahead in the first round of voting among Tory MPs but lost to Liz Truss in the leadership contest last month in a vote by the 170,000 Tory membership, who either supported Truss' now-failed tax-cutting pledges or saw Sunak as hastening Boris Johnson's downfall by resigning as chancellor.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Also Read: Rishi Sunak to Boris Johnson: 5 top contenders who can replace Liz Truss

Also Read: Liz Truss resigns amid massive economic crisis, becomes shortest-serving PM in UK history

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