Inside Boris comeback dinner where he koked about being framed

Shapps backs Sunak when questioned on Boris Johnson

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Boris Johnson’s speech at the Carlton Club last night where he unveiled an official portrait of himself was billed as the start of a political relaunch. But instead the event was only attended by one other MP, his close ally Nigel Adams and none of the alleged conspirators.

Guests dined on salmon and beef at the £120 a ticket event but while major party donors were present including George Kynoch, who sat at the top table with Mr Johnson, there was a noticeable absence of MPs.

Friends and allies like Priti Patel, Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg who are all known to be unhappy with the Rishi Sunak government were not present at the event.

Nor was Lord Cruddas, a former party treasurer who has helped to found the Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO) to help restore power to the party membership in the wake of Mr Sunak becoming leader without a vote.

Allies of Mr Sunak have claimed that the CDO is a front to bring back Mr Johnson and there were concerns last night that the event at the Carlton Club which has historic ties with the Conservative Party would be a launch pad for a comeback this year for Mr Johnson.

With the Conservatives lagging 21 points behind Labour in the Techne UK/ Express.co.uk tracker poll a number of Conservative MPs have given Mr Sunak until the local elections in May to turn around the fortunes of the party.

But last night one guest described Mr Johnson as being “humble” at the event.

The guest said: “He was his usual self with quips and so forth, joking about being framed but he actually urged people to get behind Rishi and there was no suggestion he was making a comeback.”

Mr Johnson sat next to Mr Adams, the only other MP at the dinner with ministers also not present.

A number of other MPs were at the club having drinks last night while the dinner went on.

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On Mr Johnson’s table were Mr Adams, Carlton Club chairman and former cabinet minister Lord Young, Mr Kynoch and former MP Sir Tony Baldry.

Before Mr Johnson arrived shortly before the dinner through a pack of journalists, Sir Tony and Mr Adams could be seen holding court with guests in the club bar and foyet according to sources there.

The artist, Richard Stone, who has also painted the Queen among other commissions, was also present.

He told guests that the Boris Johnson picture had been two years in the making and had taken him a year to paint.

Ironically, the Carlton Club was the scene of the events which led to Mr Johnson’s demise as Prime Minister when former minister and close ally Christopher Pincher is alleged to have sexually assaulted a guest.

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