Boris Johnson’s leaving statement hinted he is planning a political comeback, observers believe. The disgraced ex-Prime Minister stepped down as an MP on Friday, June 9, in the wake of the Partygate probe’s findings. His final few words as the member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip left little room for interpretation and has convinced people he plans to mount a return.
Mr Johnson’s leaving statement was longer than 1,000 words and saw him claim he was “forced out of Parliament” by the report – of which he had seen an early draft – that was “riddled with inaccuracies and reeks of prejudice”.
He also made claims that his decision to leave was prompted by a conspiracy to “reverse the 2016 referendum result”.
His exit will trigger a by-election in his constituency and extinguish his Parliamentary presence less than a year after he resigned from office in 2022.
But the four final words of his lengthy statement confirm this is likely not the last time the UK will have to reckon with his political aspirations.
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In the last line of his letter, he said it was “very sad to be leaving parliament” fewer than eight years after he returned to the Commons chamber in 2015.
He caveated his statement by saying: “At least for now”.
Political commentators have taken those four words as concrete proof the now ex-politician plans to return.
Posting on Twitter, Sky News presenter Sophy Ridge said the statement “deliberately leaves door open for a come back”.
She questioned whether the former PM was “going out with a bang” to embark on the “speakers circuit” and spend time with his family or if the statement was “a handy way to ditch a marginal seat for a safe one”.
With a political return evidently on the cards – at least in Mr Johnson’s mind – other commentators have theorised that he is planning a return to a safer seat.
They have suggested he may favour an attempt at a safer seat, such as his former constituency of Henley or Mid Bedfordshire, the newly vacated seat of Johnson super-ally Nadine Dorries.
But seasoned politicians have poured cold water on these potential aspirations.
Taking to Twitter following the announcement, Labour MP Chris Bryant said the idea he could stand elsewhere is “for the birds”.
The chair of the Committees on Standards and Privileges said the Partygate probe’s report – which is yet to be publicly released – could see him suspended if he tried to stand in a new seat.
He wrote: “Privileges report can be into the conduct of a former or non-member.
“So the idea he’d stand in another seat is for the birds. He’d just be suspended again.”