Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak today opens the door to Boris Johnson’s political comeback and tells of his pride in their time working together.
The Prime Minister admits there are “well-documented differences” between them but revealed he talked to his former boss just a few months ago.
And he left the option of making use of Mr Johnson’s talents in the future on the table.
Asked if he would have the ex-PM back in his Cabinet, Mr Sunak replied: “I’m proud of the work that we did together. And we worked well together for a long time. In the end there are, you know, well-documented differences…”
Stay up-to-date with the latest Politics news
Our community members are treated to special offers, promotions, and adverts from us and our partners. You can check out at any time. More info
Allies of the former Prime Minister welcomed the possibility of him returning to the political frontline and suggested Mr Johnson should be deployed on the campaign trail at the general election.
Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “Boris is the Conservative Party’s most effective campaigner so his support would be a Tory tonic.”
Conservative MP Paul Bristow said: “It seems the Prime Minister also thinks we should bring back Boris.
“He is a great campaigner and galvanising figure for Conservatives. He obviously has a role to play.
Senior Tory Sir Michael Fabricant said: “I’m all for bringing back Boris in some way and bringing in others too.”
Mr Sunak’s resignation from Mr Johnson’s government in July 2022 was viewed as the moment the then premier’s time in No 10 was over.
It triggered a wave of resignations over the following 48 hours,
The Prime Minister opened up in a new documentary, Sunak: Up Close, which airs tonight (THURS) on ITV1 at 8.30pm.
Pressed on whether Mr Johnson could make a return, the PM responds: “Well, I never talk about these personnel things, but look, I, you know, I speak to him on occasion.”
David Cameron used “star player” Boris Johnson on the campaign trail
Daily Express readers were furious when Mr Johnson was forced to quit as an MP in June last year after a “witch hunt” parliamentary investigation into his handling of the so-called Partygate furore.
Tensions between the ex-PM and Mr Sunak were pushed to the limit in the days after.
Mr Sunak took a swipe at Mr Johnson in his first public appearance after to accuse his predecessor of wanting to bend the rules on handing out peerages following a row of his resignation honours list.
Mr Johnson hit back at Mr Sunak for “talking rubbish”.
And he issued a very personal message to loyal Express readers, telling them: “I want to thank all the wonderful Express readers across the country for their continuing support.
“We must fully deliver on Brexit and on the 2019 manifesto. We must smash Labour at the next election.
“Nothing less than absolute victory and total Brexit will do – and as the great Arnold Schwarzenegger said, I’ll be back.”
But a lot of water appears to have gone under the bridge since then, with Mr Sunak revealing they do have occasional contact,
He revealed it was “probably late last year” when they last chatted.
But Mr Sunak was keen to stress that the culture in No 10 has changed since Mr Johnson’s time in charge.
He said: “I obviously have a completely new team. I make sure that everyone is honest about what’s going on. It’s very transparent.
“People are held accountable. And also, I think you just have to lead by example.”
- Support fearless journalism
- Read The Daily Express online, advert free
- Get super-fast page loading
In 2014 David Cameron called on Mr Johnson, who was London mayor at the time, to help him campaign in the Newark by-election.
The pair’s turbulent relationship was fuelled by a lifelong rivalry but the then Prime Minister said he wanted his “star player” on the field.
The two men shared a piece of rocky road cake as they toured market stalls during the visit.
It drew parallels with the 2005 election when Sir Tony Blair and arch political enemy Gordon Brown ate ice-creams togethers in an attempt to show unity as they hit the campaign trail.
With a 20 point lead between Labour and the Conservatives in the polls, a number of MPs involved in bringing down Mr Johnson’s premiership privately expressed regret last December.
But party sources at the time said there was “no clear route” back for Mr Johnson and he would be blocked from securing a Commons seat.
Lord Cameron’s shock return from the political wilderness to become Foreign Secretary as a peer would provide one option for a return.
Tory MPs say Boris Johnson is a great election campaigner
In the wide-ranging documentary, Mr Sunak admits Tory splits are harming the party in the polls.
He said: “I don’t think the country votes for divided parties. And you know, actually I think that the vast majority of our party is united. And you, you know, obviously recently we’ve been having some debates on illegal migration but actually the, the debates within our party are minuscule compared to the chasm on this issue between us and Keir Starmer.”
He also opens up about the racism he experienced as a child.
“You are conscious of being different,” he said. “And obviously I experienced racism as a kid.
“I was with my younger brother and sister when I was with them in town at a restaurant, a fast-food restaurant, and people were saying some awful things. And the thing about racism, “I mean, it stings you in a way that few other things do. Right, you probably appreciate that. “My parents felt it acutely because they were so keen for us to be able to fit in, one of the things my mum was obsessed with was that we didn’t speak with accents and we, you know, we would speak properly. And, and so she was keen for us to try and do some extra drama and things like that.”
Mr Johnson’s spokesman declined to comment.