By Bradley Bernard
Chief Leader Writer
BORIS Johnson may have departed Downing Street in September, but he was never one likely to be forgotten in a rush.
The former Prime Minister has already pledged to stand as an MP in the next election – a move rejected by the likes of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron.
It indicates that there is plenty of work still to be done for Johnson in Westminster.
But unlike others who choose to act as wise veterans from the backbenches or leading pressure groups, Johnson is likely to seek a return to the frontbenches – and not as Secretary of State.
Despite his misdemeanours in office, Johnson is still extremely popular within his own party and with Conservative voters, especially in the North of England. To this day, former Brexit Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg has said, they still toast the former Prime Minister as the “King over the water”.
Johnson continues to appear (and even write) the front pages of newspapers, while his ongoing friendship with Zelenskyy in Ukraine has kept him in the global spotlight.
This is all very uneasy for Rishi Sunak. The spectre of Johnson in the background is a lot of pressure, frustration and competition to deal with.
But perhaps it’s Sir Keir Starmer who should be more worried.
Should Sunak fail to make headway in the polls and be ousted as leader, you can bet top dollar on Johnson making a run for it again.
And after two Tory leaders who fail to make a breakthrough with voters, MPs may turn back to the last Prime Minister who did.
Sunak vs Starmer was billed as a battle of two competent technocrats with slightly differing, mild ideologies.
Instead, Sunak has been creating and putting out numerous fires, whether they be seatbelt-related or the minor issue of sacking his own party chairman.
Johnson, meanwhile – as repulsive as his politics are – has an oratory manner which has, and will, wipe the floor with Starmer in the House of Commons.
And less than two years before an election, might it not be the perfect time for hte ultimate campaignwer to come into No 10?
Starmer has been handed a fairly easy ride during his tenure – multiple blunders from thwe Truss, Sunak and, yes, Johnson administrations – have allowed Labour to rise and maintain a commanding poll lead.
But in the run up to an election, voters can easily forget what happened three or four years ago.
Campaigning mode for Johnson will be easy. Furlough, vaccine, Ukraine. It’s his skewed version of Peace, Land, Bread.
Sir Keir, meanwhile, is already being called out over his U-turns on his now infamous Ten Pledges. One recent survey showed the phrase most associated with the Labour leader was ‘don’t know’. Hardly convincing for a positive campaign.
Labour would still need to seriously blunder to fumble this polling lead and squander a majority after the next General Election.
But if Johnson re-enters the fray, snatching defeat from the jaws for victory may be a little more feasible.
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