Nadhim Zahawi warned attempts to challenge Rishi Sunak ahead of the next general election would be a “sure-fire” to see the Conservatives ousted. Mr Zahawi dismissed suggestions Boris Johnson could return to lead both the country and the party after speculation arose following the confirmation he would contest his seat in 2024. Asked by Sky News host Sophy Ridge whether Mr Johnson has a chance to come back, Mr Zahawi said: “No, because having another leadership election would be a sure-fire way of us losing the elections.”
He added: “I speak to Boris Johnson. In fact, I spoke for him in his constituency in a conversation with the chairman of the party [event].
“Let me tell you what Boris Johnson thinks. As he did when he reflected and stepped aside and supported Rishi Sunak.
“He said, ‘I will not be selfish, I will put country and party ahead.’ And Rishi has the overwhelming support of the parliamentary party which is why he supported him.
“That was the right thing to do. We have to remain united.”
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He added: “We have local elections coming up next year, we’ve got a whole delivery programme on health, on education.
“And, of course, on safer streets, and small boats we have to deliver against. That is what Boris Johnson is focussed on at the moment.”
Boris Johnson’s resignation in July exacerbated an already bitter crisis within the Conservative Party, later enhanced by the quick resignation of his successor Liz Truss in October.
YouGov’s latest survey on voting intentions showed Labour continued to lead the Tories by 25 percentage points after hitting the biggest point lead in September.
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Sajid Javid, who stood in the first Tory leadership contest of 2022, confirmed on Thursday he will no longer represent the constituency of Bromsgrove after the next election.
Mr Javid’s sensational resignation from Boris Johnson’s cabinet, together with Mr Sunak’s, spelled the beginning of the end for the former prime minister’s premiership.
Dehenna Davison, Crispin Blunt, William Wragg, Chris Skidmore, Sir Gary Streeter, Chloe Smith, Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross, Sir Charles Walker, Nigel Adams, Sir Mike Penning, Adam Afriyie and Andrew Percy will also be standing down.