Senior Tories have called for Boris Johnson to be blocked from standing again as an MP as the party attempts to draw a line under a weekend of mayhem triggered by his resignation.

Former minister Tobias Ellwood said Mr Johnson should not be allowed to stand again until he has shown “commitment” to the party, after a tumultuous few days which left it in turmoil.

Mr Johnson quit in dramatic fashion on Friday but used his 1,000-word exit statement to leave open the door open for a return to Westminster. His resignation, along with two allies, has prompted three by-elections as part of what some claimed was a coordinated attempt to sabotage the Sunak administration.

Mr Ellwood, who chairs the defence select committee, told The Independent: “He’s directly responsible for orchestrating a mutiny and triggering multiple by-elections. So close to the election it’s clear his intentions will not change.

“It would be for the party machine to determine any conditions but he should not be allowed to stand in any election until a time when his commitment to the party can be reviewed.”

He added: “Wide adulation for Johnson has been replaced with total indignation by this blatant act of political mutiny.

“The prime minister should harness this opportunity to finally draw a line under the turbulent Johnson era. Any MP triggering by-elections should lose party affiliation.”

His call came after former Conservative leader Michael Howard warned that the findings of the bombshell privileges committee probe into whether he misled MPs, to be published as soon as Tuesday, could end Mr Johnson’s political career for good.

“That is obviously going to be a very important report,” he told the BBC. “It affects, for example, whether Boris Johnson never could ever come back into the House of Commons.”

Lord Heseltine added: “To me, it is inconceivable that, in these circumstances, Johnson could stand as a Conservative member of parliament again. It is up to Conservative central office to affirm an official candidate.”

It came as Grant Shapps, who also served in Mr Johnson’s cabinet, poured cold water on a comeback for the former prime minister, as he refused to rule out that the party could block his attempt to stand again.

The energy secretary said: “Whether Boris Johnson will ever want to stop and I would never want to predict. The party has very clear processes in place for anybody who wants to stand for the party. It would be entirely a matter for the party itself.”

A cabinet minister said prime minister Rishi Sunak did not interfere with Boris Johnson’s peerage nominations

(PA Archive)

Mr Shapps said the Tory party “don’t miss the drama” of a Johnson administration, adding bluntly: “I’m sure he’s got many other things he wants to get on and do.”

He went on: “There is no kind of chance of him coming back and saying, ‘Right, now I’m going to stand again.’ From what I understand, even he has said he doesn’t want to do that.”

Mr Johnson resigned after claiming he was the victim of a “witch hunt” by a parliamentary committee tasked with investigating whether he misled parliament over lockdown parties in No 10.

In an furious outburst, in which he attacked the committee and Rishi Sunak, Mr Johnson said he was leaving parliament “for now”.

The days since have been rife with speculation about whether he could try to stand elsewhere at the next general election, with ally Jacob Rees-Mogg, who was honoured in Mr Johnson’s resignation list, claiming the former PM could “easily get back into parliament at the next election” – meaning he would return next year.

The former PM’s departure came on the same day as his resignation honours list was approved, elevating seven allies to the House of Lords and handing out more than a dozen other gongs.

But close allies within the parliamentary Conservative Party were notably absent from the list, amid speculation that their nominations had been blocked by Mr Sunak to avoid a by-election.

No 10 denies this but the assurances were not enough to stop both Nadine Dorries and Nigel Adams from resigning their seats with “immediate effect” and plunging the Tories into a second and third difficult by-election, alongside the one for Mr Johnson’s seat.

Asked about Mr Johnson’s future, Mr Shapps told Sky News: “He has decided to step down and a couple of my other colleagues, all of them whom I’ve worked with and Boris in particular.

“But … the world has moved on. He is the one who has removed himself from the current political scene, standing down as a member of parliament. We’ve got excellent leadership in place in No 10 with Rishi Sunak.”

The cabinet minister added: “People both in the Conservative Party and outside don’t miss the drama of it all.”

A top pollster, meanwhile, also warned that the ex-prime minister’s career is “over” for now on account of his unpopularity with the public.

Asked about the prospects for a comeback by Mr Johnson, Ben Page, the chief executive of pollster Ipsos Mori, said: “His time is over in politics for the moment.”

“Let’s just be frank: two out of three people think he’s lied and misled parliament,” he explained.

“When we asked people which prime minister they think did a good job or a bad job, Boris Johnson tops the bad job list by some margin.”

Allies of the former prime minister, however, suggested he was far from done.

In an article for the Mail On Sunday, Mr Rees-Mogg said there could be a Tory “civil war” if the party tried to “block” him from standing.

Tory MP Sir James Duddridge wrote in the Sun on Sunday: “We need more people like Boris Johnson, not fewer. My tip, head to Ladbrokes and put a fiver on him coming back, maybe even before the next election.”

And Mr Johnson’s former Brexit negotiator Lord Frost wrote in the Sunday Telegraph: “We don’t know where he will be back or when. But I’m sure the story is not over.”

Guto Harri, a former spin doctor for Mr Johnson, told Sky his former boss had been “hounded out of politics”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on Saturday night urged Mr Sunak to call a snap election while other opposition figures accused Mr Johnson of acting like a “baby-man” and blaming his mistakes on everyone else.

Pat McFadden, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme that the ex-PM had clearly not been forced out of parliament by the committee as claimed.

“It just triggers a recall petition where he could face the voters,” he said.

“But the truth is he didn’t want to face any of the verdicts because he can never accept responsibility for his own actions.

“That’s true of all these right-wing populist leaders. They are like baby-men. Whenever anything goes wrong, it is everybody else’s fault.”

Source link