Next UK prime minister - latest: Boris Johnson backed by third cabinet minister - amid push to stop Liz Truss issuing resignation honours list or receiving £115,000 lifetime allowance (2022)

Key points
  • Three candidates emerge for Tory leadership race
  • Beth Rigby:There are obstacles in his way, but Johnson could be back in Number 10 by Friday
  • Is Boris Johnson going to run?
  • Influential cabinet minister Ben Wallace 'leaning' towards backing Johnson - after Rees-Mogg declared his support for former PM
  • Tories fall to 'lowest level of support in British polling history'
  • Liz Truss is the shortest serving PM in British history
  • Keir Starmer calls for general election| And tells Truss to forgo £115,000 lifetime allowance
  • Live reporting by Tim Baker and Faith Ridler

10:45:02

15:14:57

There are many obstacles in his way, but Johnson could be back in Number 10 by Friday

It would be the mother of all political comebacks, but take it in: Boris Johnson is heading back from the Caribbean - I'm told he's expected to be arriving tomorrow - to plot a possible return to Number 10 four months after he was kicked out by his own MPs. As he makes his way back to London, parliamentary allies are trying to drum up support.

One figure in the Johnson camp told me he's not going to press go on any bid until he's sure he has the numbers, and the Tory MPs of the European Research Group will be key. The couple of dozen MPs in this group on the right of the party, who backed Liz Truss for leader, are now split on what to do next.

Suella Braverman is the choice for some but is highly unlikely to garner wider party support. As for Rishi Sunak or Penny Mordaunt, they are certainly not this group's cup of tea, which leaves the ERG politically homeless unless they fall in behind the man they supported in 2019 - Boris Johnson.

With 36 backers at the time of writing, a big chunk of the ERG support would certainly add to Mr Johnson's hopes of getting across the nomination line. But, with around 60 MPs resigning from his government only four months ago, it goes without saying that a return of Mr Johnson would be explosive for a party already in total disarray.

As one former minister Jesse Norman tweeted in response to growing Johnson momentum on Friday: "There are several very good potential candidates for Conservative leader. But choosing Boris now would be — and I say this advisedly — an absolutely catastrophic decision."

But for his supporters, Mr Johnson is the one with the mandate and the party's best hope. When I put it to one of them that it would be messy to stick the man back in who had recently been kicked out, they admitted "it's not easy" but also said: "He'll bring a message of humility. The point is that we are not united, but he will try to unite and show contrition."

I was also told he'd take a "change in approach" and want to put forward a "unity cabinet" taking in different wings of the party.

But there are obvious obstacles, not least the fact that back in June 148 MPs from his own party voted to say they had no confidence in him, raising the question - again - as to whether Mr Johnson can even begin to manage the party (Johnsonites tell me Sunak has the same problem with them by the way).

He also faces the threat of being suspended as an MP due to an investigation by the Commons privileges committees into whether he lied to Parliament over lockdown parties.

If he's found guilty, he could face a suspension from Parliament and a possible recall vote in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat. But, as one cabinet minister told me earlier today, there's a good chance he hits the threshold, while a party members poll this week put him as the preferred choice. Mr Johnson could be back in Number 10 by the end of next week.

14:49:34

Tory MP says it was a 'mistake' not to back Sunak in first round

Nigel Mills, the MP for Amber Valley, said it was a "mistake" for him not to back Rishi Sunak during the summer's leadership contest.

He said the former chancellor would be his choice to replace the outgoing prime minister.

Mr Mills said: "A few weeks ago I changed my mind and didn't back Rishi Sunak.

"I'm not making the same mistake again, he is clearly the prime minister we need to restore stability and tackle the many serious challenges facing the country."

14:41:37

Bookies odds reveal favourite to be next PM

The odds of Boris Johnson becoming the next prime minister are shortening rapidly.

It comes as three cabinet ministers announced their support for Mr Johnson (2.06pm).

Rishi Sunak still remains the market's favourite, while Penny Mordaunt appears to be falling behind.

14:30:38

Suspension of Liz Truss aide lifted

The suspension of one of Liz Truss's aides has been lifted.

Jason Stein was placed on leave on Wednesday during a probe into hostile briefings against Sajid Javid.

But today a Number 10 spokesperson said: "The investigation has concluded and the suspension has ended."

14:21:01

Liberal Democrats call for Liz Truss not to be allowed resignation honours list

The Liberal Democrats are calling for Liz Truss to be barred from having a resignation honours list.

The party's chief whip, Wendy Chamberlain, has written to the chair of the parliamentary political service committee and the chair of the House of Lord's appointments commission.

She said: "As you know, it is traditional upon a prime minister's departure from office for them to issue a 'resignation honours’ list. This list signifies individuals who are to be rewarded with an honour from the King which, in turn, would be considered by your committee.

"However, because of the unprecedented circumstances surrounding Liz Truss's tenure and resignation, I am writing to urge you and the committee to reject any resignation honours list put forward by her."

In an announcement, Ms Chamberlain added: "Handing out more expensive gongs to Conservative allies would be a truly remarkable way to reward the shortest tenure as prime minister in British political history.

"Truss and her Conservative colleagues have trashed our economy and left millions in misery. We are faced with the horrifying prospect that those who are selected for honours will be the very people who helped plunge the country into chaos and crisis.

"Allowing Truss to dish out positions of influence, and huge handouts to boot, would be a disgraceful waste of taxpayer money and show a stunning lack of humility."

14:06:35

Third cabinet minister backs Johnson

Simon Clarke, the levelling up secretary, has revealed he will back Boris Johnson if he decides to run for the Conservative leadership, the Telegraph reports.

Mr Clarke, who is a key ally of Liz Truss, made this announcement in a joint statement with Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor.

It comes after Ben Wallace said he was "leaning towards" Mr Johnson - and Jacob Rees-Mogg declared his support for the former prime minister.

Mr Clarke and Mr Houchen said: "Boris is the person we need to lead our country and our party.

"He won the greatest election victory for years on a mandate to unite and level up the UK, and inspired millions of people who had never voted Conservative before to get behind a generous, optimistic vision of what Britain can be."

13:34:45

Cost of government borrowing creeping up with news Johnson may be running

The cost of government borrowing is creeping up slightly, amid the growing support for Boris Johnson to be the next prime minister, according to economics and data editor Ed Conway.

A rising cost of borrowing was part of the financial maelstrom that led to the junking of Liz Truss's mini-budget.

Conway said that while it was "tempting to dismiss these market moves as academic", they contributed to interest rates that people pay.

13:30:49

Former cabinet minister backs Sunak for next Tory leader

George Eustice, who was environment secretary under Boris Johnson, has confirmed he will be backing Rishi Sunak in next week's leadership contest.

No candidates have yet put themselves forward for the race, but it is widely expected that Mr Sunak will do so shortly.

Penny Mordaunt and Mr Johnson have also already gained a backing.

Mr Eustice said: "I'm going to be backing Rishi Sunak in this contest. I think in the leadership campaign over the summer, he won in all of the exchanges that took place in hustings.

"As far as I can see, he had the biggest base of support within the parliamentary party, and we really need someone now who can unite the party, pull it together, but crucially, who's got the judgment to be a good prime minister to get those key decisions right, so that we can deal with some of the great challenges that the world faces."

13:25:00

'Bring back Boris, he's the man': Uxbridge residents back their MP

Rumours are circulating that Boris Johnson could join the race to be the next Conservative leader, months after resigning from the same post.

Today, Sky News spoke to people in Uxbridge, where Mr Johnson is an MP.

Asked about the prospect of his return, one man said: "Boris Johnson was actually the prime minister who took us out of Brexit, so I'm a big fan of Boris Johnson.

"I don't think we actually gave him a fair chance."

See more of what those in Uxbridge had to say in the clip below...

12:48:59

Boris Johnson as PM would be 'absolutely catastrophic decision' - Tory MP

Tory MP Jesse Norman says Boris Johnson returning as prime minister would be "an absolutely catastrophic decision".

He said: "There are several very good potential candidates for Conservative leader.

"But choosing Boris now would be — and I say this advisedly — an absolutely catastrophic decision."

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