Liz Truss says ‘never ever write Boris off’
The Partygate scandal had been dangling over Boris Johnson’s head for over a year. The Privileges Committee’s damning report dropped last week, and he now finds himself not only out of a premiership, but out of Parliament.
Speculation as to his next move has abounded. In the short term, he has set about refuting the “deranged conclusion” that he “deliberately mislead MPs” over gatherings at Number 10 during lockdown. He described it “the final knife-thrust in a protracted political assassination”.
On Monday, the Commons will debate the key findings of the report and vote on whether the 90-day suspension it recommends ought to be applied. Although he has already resigned, this could rule out Mr Johnson from a growing number of upcoming by-elections.
Express.co.uk sources have also suggested he could bring a legal challenge against the “kangaroo court” and their investigation into him.
But once the dust has settled, whether he is vindicated or temporarily suspended, what options does Mr Johnson have going forward? Express.co.uk has compiled a full list.
Start a new party
The Conservative Party and Mr Johnson have fallen out in many ways, prompting suggestions they could part ways entirely.
In December 2019 he captained the Tories to a landslide general election victory – less than three years later, a cascade of ministerial resignations forced him out as Prime Minister.
Recently, he has taken aim at the current Government headed by his former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, claiming the Party’s majority was at risk. Having triumphed on a pledge to “Get Brexit Done”, in his resignation statement he suggested the attacks on him were now driven by a desire to “reverse the 2016 referendum result”.
A more natural ally, in this case, would be Nigel Farage. Two days after Mr Johnson stepped down as an MP, on his GB News show the ex-UKIP leader suggested he could join forces with the former Prime Minister to defend their “Brexit legacy”.
Tory grandee David Campbell Bannerman said he thought a new, Johnson-led party was on the cards – and the idea certainly has public support. According to betting site PaddyPower, he’s odds-on ¼ to do so.
A recent poll of Express.co.uk readers found a sizeable 69 percent majority backed him going his own way in politics, as the bookies suggest close allies Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dories would join him.
Return to journalism
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Mr Johnson was known to the UK’s newspaper readership long before he got into politics. Having been a leader-writer for the Daily Telegraph, he also served as editor of The Spectator. Even after leaving it all behind to become an MP, his opinions were regularly sought out and printed.
As a backbencher, his former paper handed over £250,000 for a regular column, while the magazine once paid him £3,000 for an article he claims took just an hour to write. After his turbulent time at the very top of British politics, his insights have only become more valuable.
Within hours of the damning Privileges Committee report becoming public, Mr Johnson’s recognisable silhouette was to be found alongside the Daily Mail header teasing their new columnist (along with more accusations of further breaches of the ministerial code).
Reportedly worth £1million, the deal is a clear indication of his value to the industry, and that it is one in which he could resume a well-paid career.
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Become a public intellectual
He may not even have to write his musings down to make a living, however, as evidenced by the small fortunes the ex-Prime Minister has already been netting in speaking fees.
The MPs’ register of interests shows that Mr Johnson raked in earnings of around £5million in the six months after he vacated Number 10, on top of his parliamentary salary.
Entries included an advance of £510,000 for upcoming memoirs, as well as £315,000 for a 30-minute speech and “fireside chat” in his birth country of the US.
Now that he is free of political responsibilities, experts told Express.co.uk he could “easily make £10million a year” if he seized all such opportunities coming his way.
Run again in Henley
These same experts, however, alongside most others, believe Mr Johnson is unlikely to leave politics behind forever. This belief was reinforced by the man himself, ending his resignation statement with the caveat that he was leaving “at least for now.”
If he were to stand again for the Conservatives, it is looking increasingly likely that Henley would be his first choice.
The seat has been safely in Tory hands since 1910, and its current MP, John Howell – who succeeded Mr Johnson in 2008 – secured a comfortable majority of 14,000 votes at the last election.
Mr Johnson knows victory there himself, having been elected as the Oxfordshire constituency’s representative in both 2001 and 2005.
In April, Mr Howell announced he would not be standing in the upcoming 2024 general election, leaving the door open. The Johnsons have just taken up residence in the £3.8million Brightwell Manor just outside of the seat’s largest town.
Next year also holds a London mayoral election in store. With incumbent Sadiq Khan running again for Labour and the Conservatives have yet to field a candidate, anything could happen in the race.
In what would be a major wildcard if proven true, Mr Johnson is said to be weighing up a run for a second stint in City Hall as an independent.
Speaking to The Independent newspaper, former key aide Gutto Harri said he thought the move would be a “great idea”, adding: “London needs a powerful advocate with the profile, ambition, credibility and character to fight its corner and champion its cause.”
Having been a strong and early advocate for empowering Ukraine to defend itself against Russia’s invasion, soon after his resignation as Prime Minister last year, many also tipped Mr Johnson to take over leadership of NATO.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his “sadness” that Mr Johnson would no longer be leading the UK, and described his British counterpart as a “hero”. Ukrainian MP Oleksii Goncharenko said at the time: “He would be the right person to take over from Jens Stoltenberg as he understands the challenges that NATO and the West faces.”
Current Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is due to retire from the role in September, but his successor has yet to be announced.
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