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15th Jul 2022

Boris Johnson is begging failed Tory leadership candidates to back ‘anyone but Rishi Sunak’, reports claim

Tobi Akingbade

Boris anyone but Rishi

Well, this partnership has soured, hasn’t it?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly backing for failed Tory leadership candidates to support ‘anyone but Rishi’ Sunak.

This comes amid reports that the whole team at 10 Downing Street ‘hates’ the former chancellor for causing the PM’s downfall.

Johnson, who announced last week that he will step down as party leader when his replacement is decided, has said he will not publicly endorse any candidate or get involved in what is turning out to be a dramatic race to the leadership spot.

But it has now been claimed that Johnson has reportedly made clear in private conversations with failed leadership hopefuls that Sunak – Johnson’s former chancellor –  should not be the one taking over from him, according to reports.

The Times said Johnson appeared to be happiest over the prospect of his Foreign Secretary Liz Truss becoming Prime Minister.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 12: Rishi Sunak makes a speech to launch his bid to be leader of the Conservative Party on July 12, 2022 in London, England. The former Chancellor was the second high-profile minister to resign from Boris Johnson's cabinet last week setting in motion the events that saw Johnson step down as Conservative Party Leader. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Truss has been publicly backed by some of Johnson’s closest cabinet allies – including Nadine Dorries, Jabob Rees-Mogg and attorney general Suella Braverman.

He is also said to be open to Penny Mordaunt taking on the role.

A source told the publication: “The whole No 10 team hates Rishi. It’s personal. It’s vitriolic.

“They don’t blame Saj [Sajid Javid] for bringing him down. They blame Rishi. They think he was planning this for months.”

Another source claimed there had been concerns that Mr Sunak would go “soft” on Putin and sanctions against Russia, a topic Johnson views as part of his legacy.

A friend of Mr Johnson said: “Of course he’s disappointed, of course he’s frustrated.

“He’s been pushing Rishi for a compelling growth strategy for many months without success.

“So alongside the sense of betrayal is a sense of regret about what could have already been well underway.

“But he’s very clear his commitment is overwhelmingly to the British people and that electing a leader who will deliver for them is paramount, even if personally painful for him.”

Although, an ally of the Tory leader-hopeful has hit back that Mr Sunak had no intention of going easy on Moscow.

They said: “Rishi led the way in enforcing the toughest sanctions on Russia and ensured that our allies followed suit.”

September 5 is thought to be the day a new leader will be chosen but Boris Johnson will remain in the Commons as an active backbencher.

This isn’t entirely uncommon as Theresa May has also remained an MP in the Commons since she stepped down in 2016. Meanwhile, David Cameron quit just two months after he left, saying he feared he would become “a big distraction and a big diversion” if he remained.

Sir Tony Blair quit as an MP on the same day he resigned as Prime Minister in 2007.

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