Boris Johnson will continue to support Ukraine in Russia’s war by ensuring new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak retains strong UK support, friends say
- Boris Johnson plans to continue to put pressure on Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine
- He will keep his promise to President Zelensky to fly the flag for Ukraine
- Former prime minister’s allies said he would keep Sunak’s ‘feet to fire’ on the issue
- They also said that his withdrawal from the PM race was not the end of his political career
Boris Johnson will keep his promise to his friend Volodymyr Zelensky and continue to fly the flag for Ukraine after his aborted bid in Downing Street.
After leading the international response to Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion, Johnson plans to keep pressure on the Russian leader.
Allies of the former prime minister yesterday pledged that he would keep Rishi Sunak’s “feet against fire” over Ukraine to ensure Britain’s engagement does not slip.
He would also schedule visits to Washington to make sure US President Joe Biden or other Western countries don’t slip back.
And Johnson’s allies say his decision to withdraw from the Tory leadership race on Sunday doesn’t mean his career in frontline politics is over. He could become a thorn in his former chancellor’s side from the back seat thanks to a determination to ensure his flagship leveling agenda stays on track.
Boris Johnson will keep his promise to his friend Volodymyr Zelensky and continue to fly the flag for Ukraine after his aborted offer for Downing Street
Interventions could include critical speeches in the House of Commons and visits to ‘Red Wall’ seats long occupied by Labour, in the North and Midlands that he snatched in the 2019 elections.
“He’s interested in preserving his legacy by leveling up and protecting the 2019 sense that something unique happened when we won in places we’ve never won before,” said an ally.
It could force Mr. Sunak to offer Mr. Johnson a frontline role to neutralize any threat. The ally also didn’t rule out a return to number 10, saying, “He still thinks the job isn’t done yet.”
However, one of his first priorities will be to clear his name in the Partygate investigation being conducted by the Privilege Commission. It is considering whether Mr Johnson deliberately misled the Commons about Downing Street celebrations when Covid-19 lockdown measures were in place, and will begin hearing evidence, including from Mr Johnson, within weeks.
It could be hugely embarrassing for the ex-Prime Minister and if he is found to have deliberately misled Parliament – which he denies – he could be suspended as an MP. Given that that would fall under the Recall of MPs Act, it could even lead to a by-election and oust Mr Johnson from his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat – potentially ending his political career.
After leading the international response to Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion, Mr Johnson plans to pressure Russian leader
Yesterday the 1922 backbench committee confirmed that he had reached the support threshold of 100 MPs needed to reach the final vote for a confrontation with Mr Sunak.
Some of his supporters were angry at his decision to pull out, saying they felt “betrayed” after publicly supporting him.
But Nadine Dorries, a former culture secretary and one of his closest allies, said he “did the right thing” and insisted: “That doesn’t mean it’s the end of Boris Johnson.”
In his statement on Sunday night, Mr Johnson hinted that he could still lead the Tories into the general election, saying he still has “a lot to offer” but that “this just isn’t the right time.”
Will Walden, who was Mr Johnson’s communications director when he was mayor of London, said he had further destabilized the Conservative Party and predicted he won’t be back.
However, a MP who supported Mr Johnson said: ‘I would never rule him out from a comeback. You never know with him.’