Boris Johnson returned to London on Saturday morning, perhaps hoping that his arrival at Gatwick Airport would mark the start of a triumphant return to Number 10 Downing Street.
Johnson, who was ousted as prime minister in July amid a series of scandals, arrived in the UK from a Caribbean holiday with plans to enter the race to replace Liz Truss as prime minister, Britain’s allied news agency PA Media reported.
Johnson told UK Trade Minister James Duddridge he was “ready,” the PA reported. He has announced that he will stand in the leadership contest, even though he is still being investigated by parliament over allegations that he lied to MPs.
Truss resigned on Thursday, just six weeks into his disastrous tenure that plunged Britain into political and economic turmoil. His successor will be the fifth prime minister to lead the country since he voted for Brexit in 2016.
On Saturday, former home secretary Priti Patel became one of Johnson’s top supporters in his bid to become prime minister. “Boris has a mandate to deliver our elected manifesto and a proven track record of getting big decisions right,” he tweeted.
But his A possible return to the top job has divided opinion within the Conservative Party, with many MPs terrified of the prospect of Johnson becoming a second prime minister.
His former deputy prime minister and former foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, told the BBC “we cannot go back” and said Johnson is investigating the partygate scandal over illegal Downing Street gatherings.
The former prime minister is expected to appear in the coming weeks before the Commons Privileges Committee, which is investigating whether he misled Parliament in front of parties, which could result in him being suspended or expelled as an MP.
Graham Brady, leader of the 1922 Committee, which represents Conservative members of parliament, said a new PM would be chosen by next Friday. He said candidates to replace Truss would need at least 100 nominations from party MPs by 2pm on Monday. The threshold narrows the field of potential candidates to a maximum of three.
If only one candidate meets this threshold, he automatically becomes the leader. Otherwise, online voting for party members will close on Friday, October 28.
If he gets the required number of followers, Johnson will join former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, who has already reached the threshold, Britain’s PA Media news agency reported on Friday.
Suna, who lost to Truss in the last round of the previous leadership contest, has yet to formally declare his candidacy. CNN has reached out to representatives of Sunake for comment.
House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt has also put her name in the ring. Mordaunt came third in the last board election, behind Truss and Sunak.