Nadhim Zahawi says Boris Johnson won’t make comeback as PM
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Boris Johnson poses the biggest risk to Sir Keir Starmer’s chances of taking the keys to No.10, strategists have warned the Labour leader. Party chiefs have analysed polling which shows swing voters who rejected Labour for the Tories at the 2019 General Election are looking more towards Mr Johnson’s performance during the Covid pandemic than the Partygate scandal.
A Labour strategist has told the same publication Mr Johnson’s ousting was “like gold dust” for the party.
They told the Mail on Sunday: “It brought into play this whole group of voters who were out of reach. There are a clump of seats we thought we could win that we now think we should win.”
Sources close to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have said the potential for a comeback by Mr Johnson is being encouraged by his supporters and by strategists at Labour who want to destabilise the current administration.
Former Culture Secretary and Johnson loyalist, Nadine Dorries, has told the same publication Labour fears nothing more than the return of Mr Johnson.
She writes: “He is the most impactful, charismatic, progressive and productive leader the Conservative Party has known since the days of Margaret Thatcher.
“The future of Conservative MPs rests in their own hands and they have a simple question to ask themselves: do they want to remain as MPs or not?
“It is an undeniable fact that with Boris at the helm, more would return to Westminster following a General Election than with any other individual leading the party.”
The MP for Mid-Bedfordshire added that with Mr Sunak in No 10, the Tories are heading into “the long, cold and brutal wasteland” of “thankless opposition”.
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Quizzed on a possible come back by Mr Johnson, Mr Sunak told the BBC today (January 8): “I think what everyone in our party wants is they want the country’s priorities to be met and they want the Conservative Party and the Conservative Government to do a good job of delivering for the British people and right now what the British people want are the things we’ve promised to do…
“Those are the things that matter to the country, those are the things that matter to me and to the Conservative Government and this year people will see us really work our socks off to deliver for them.”
Asked if he fears a 1997-style wipeout for the Tories at the next election, Mr Sunak told the BBC today (January 8): “What the country wants is a Government that is focused on the things that matter. Their priorities are clear and that’s why they’re my priorities and I set them out very clearly this week.
“Our plan, any my plan, is to deliver on them and I think we can halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting lists and stop the boats… That’s all that I’m focused on. It’s about delivering for the country on the things that matter to [Britons].”
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The first YouGov/Times voting intention poll this year shows the Conservatives on 25 percent of the vote (+1 from the previous survey on December 20-21) to Labour’s 46 percent (-2).
Asked why anyone under 45 would vote Tory, Mr Sunak pointed to his pledges around the economy.
He said managing the economy responsibly matters to everybody and repeated his pledges to halve inflation to bring interest rates down, cut borrowing and boost economic growth.
However, Sir Keir’s lead over Mr Sunak has fallen to five points in terms of the party leader Britons think would make the best prime minister, by 31 percent (-1) to 26 percent (+1), according to the YouGov/Times poll.
A recent analysis by the Best for Britain campaign group, which strongly opposed Brexit, suggested Labour is on course for a majority of fewer than 60 seats at the next general election – far fewer than some have projected.
It warned any tightening of the polls in the run up to polling day could cost Sir Keir the election.
The finding is based on a survey of 10,010 people by pollsters Focaldata carried out around the time former PM Liz Truss resigned in October, with a further “top-up” poll of 2,000 people after Mr Sunak became Prime Minister.
While the headline figures put Labour on course to win 517 seats in the new parliament, Best for Britain said that falls to 353 – representing a majority of 56 – if the impact of the high number of “don’t knows” is factored in.
It said its analysis suggests the bulk of the undecideds are likely to be “timid Tories”, closely resembling the age and education profiles of people who say they intend to vote Conservative – who could return to the Tory fold come polling day.
Best of Britain Chief Executive Naomi Smith said: “These findings make clear that we who want to see the back of this nativist, incompetent, sleaze-ridden Government can take nothing for granted.”
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