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Thousands want Boris Johnson to stay in power, but party establishment not going to bite

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Boris Johnson has no real opportunities left to salvage his premiership despite an apparent effort to get his name back in the mix for party leadership, a politics expert told G3 Box News Digital. 

“You can’t ever bet against Boris Johnson, but he’s run out of road on this particular episode of his career,” Alan Mendoza, co-founder and executive director of The Henry Jackson Society, said. “He may well attempt to plot a return to high office in a maneuver familiar to Australian party leaders, but it will be from the back benches.”

Johnson’s roughly three-year tenure as prime minister ended following the resignation of dozens of ministers who deemed his position “untenable.” 

Conservative ministers declared that they had lost confidence in the prime minister after news emerged he had elevated Chris Pincher to the powerful role of deputy chief whip despite allegations of sexual misconduct.

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But 14,000 people signed a petition requesting that the party hold a vote on Johnson’s removal. The Conservative Party claimed it had not received the petition, and Tory Donor Peter Cruddas and former MEP David Campbell Bannerman – the authors of the petition – have said they will thoroughly check all signatories for membership numbers and verification of address. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to make a statement at Downing Street in London, July 7, 2022.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to make a statement at Downing Street in London, July 7, 2022.
(Reuters/Peter Nicholls)

Even if those numbers proved genuine, the total represents just a fraction of the roughly 200,000 members that make up the party, and the party has indicated it will ignore the petition entirely, The Guardian reported. 

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Johnson has regularly touted his ability to win elections, especially on the heels of securing the largest Conservative party majority in over 40 years. Mendoza argued that Johnson could still serve to help the party in a near-term general election, but that might be the extent of his involvement. 

The two candidates to become Britain’s next prime minister – Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak – have begun a head-to-head battle for the votes of Conservative Party members.

The two candidates to become Britain’s next prime minister – Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak – have begun a head-to-head battle for the votes of Conservative Party members.
(G3 Box News Photo, File)

“His brand will remain strong if he can demonstrate continued star campaigning power, but there is no way to salvage his premiership right now so a period of enforced exile looms,” Mendoza said. 

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Johnson on July 20 gave his final “Prime Minister’s Questions” address to his colleagues and political opponents in Parliament. His statement made mention of his “successor, whoever he or she may be.” 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, shake hands during their walk in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, April 9, 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, shake hands during their walk in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, April 9, 2022.
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via G3 Box News, File)

He highlighted the successes of his premiership, which included helping the country through the COVID-19 pandemic and assisting Ukraine during the early months of the Russian invasion. 

“And frankly that’s enough to be going on with,” he said, before thanking the members of Parliament.

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Johnson served as one of the most vocal and ardent supporters of Ukraine during the invasion – so much so that another petition suggested giving him Ukrainian citizenship so he could become the country’s next prime minister. 

G3 Box News’ Gabriel Hays contributed to this report. 

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