Politics Boris Johnson: Tories are in worse position than when...

Boris Johnson: Tories are in worse position than when I was PM

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Boris Johnson has said the Tories are in a worse position than when he was prime minister, but believes they still have time to win the next general election.

The intervention came as Rishi Sunak’s personal popularity sunk to its lowest point since he took over the premiership last year, amid rows over his Rwanda deportation bill.

Tories in “Red Wall” seats reportedly regret ousting Mr Johnson, who won the 2019 election with a landslide majority, and suggested he could make inroads where Mr Sunak could not.

Mr Johnson resigned from Parliament earlier this year, meaning he could not immediately return as prime minister.

However, this has not stopped speculation over his future.

Not insurmountable

Speaking on a trip to Australia, the former prime minister said the Tories were on course for a defeat but still had time to overtake Labour.

He said: “It would be remiss of me not to make the observation that they are now facing a considerable defeat in the polls, a much bigger differential than when I was leader, by about 20 points.”

However, he argued that the gap was not “insurmountable”, noting there was a “long time” to go until before the next general election. Another vote must take place by January 2025 at the latest.

Mr Johnson declared the Government had made the right decision when it held a vote on Tuesday on the Rwanda Bill, which would bar “systemic” legal challenges claiming Rwanda is unsafe for asylum seekers.

However, he conceded that it had been a “rough week”, amid rumours of a rebellion on the Right of the party that eventually failed to materialise.

Mr Johnson said: “It’s totally right and I’m so glad they didn’t drop the Bill. I’m so glad they pushed on. It was absolutely right.”

He added: “We’ve just got to keep going. And we’ve got a very difficult legal, very complicated legal situation but we have to push on.”

The regretful Red Wall

A survey published by YouGov found that Mr Sunak’s popularity among voters has fallen to its lowest level since he became Tory leader.

The poll, conducted before Tuesday night’s vote on the Rwanda Bill, found 70 per cent of people had an unfavourable opinion of the Prime Minister, compared with 21 per cent with a favourable view.

It gave Mr Sunak a net favourability rating of minus 49: down by 10 points from late November and the lowest score he has recorded since taking the premiership in October 2022.

A majority of 2019 Tory voters – 56 per cent – said they had a negative view of Mr Sunak, while 40 per cent had a positive view.

YouGov said Mr Sunak’s score was similar to Boris Johnson’s during his final months in office but still better than Liz Truss’s low of minus 70.

Mr Sunak triggered the end of Mr Johnson’s political career in the summer of last year when he resigned as chancellor.

The Times reported last week that more than a dozen “Red Wall” MPs, including ministers, have privately admitted to colleagues that they regret ousting Mr Johnson as leader.

Mr Johnson’s spokesman declined to comment to the newspaper on speculation that he could make a return to frontline politics, insisting he was focused on writing a book on Shakespeare.

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