Quiet Boris Johnson STILL hasn’t congratulated Rishi Sunak on becoming Tory leader – as MPs slam ex-PM for ‘demeaning himself’ in scramble for support in race to No10

  • Ex-PM yet to publicly congratulate his former chancellor on becoming leader
  • Could perhaps be licking his wounds after pulling out of an 11th hour return bid
  • As congratulations came in, Mr Johnson’s social media channels remained quiet

Rishi Sunak becomes prime minister today after issuing a ‘unite or die’ message to the Conservative Party. But one MP at least appears to have missed the memo. 

Boris Johnson, who worked alongside Mr Sunak for two-and-a-half-years in Downing Street, is conspicuous in his lack or congratulation – or any comment at all – on his former right-hand man’s success.

Mr Johnson could perhaps be licking his wounds after pulling out of an 11th hour run against Mr Sunak, who is blamed by allies of the ex-leader for ending his premiership.

But as a wave of congratulations came in for Mr Sunak from across Conservative ranks, Mr Johnson’s social media channels remained quiet. 

Before returning to the UK at the weekend, he was on holiday in the Caribbean with his family while Parliament was in session. 

It came as he was on the receiving end of criticism from Tory MPs over the manner of his abortive tilt at power.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said Mr Johnson had been ‘begging people for votes’ in a ‘demeaning’ Tory leadership race before withdrawing. 

Boris Johnson, who worked alongside Mr Sunak for two-and-a-half-years in Downing Street, is conspicuous in his lack or congratulation – or any comment at all – on his former right-hand man’s success.

Mr Johnson could perhaps be licking his wounds after pulling out of an 11th hour run against Mr Sunak, who is blamed by allies of the ex-leader for ending his premiership.

 

Mr Johnson has not tweeted since October 15 and has not updated his Facebook page since last month.

The former Conservative leader told LBC radio’s Tonight With Andrew Marr: ‘I think the problem when Boris came over was, one, Boris was completely unexpectedly having to do this.

‘He’d made no plans, he got no team. He kind of expected I think when he arrived that there would be at least 150 people acclaiming him and this would grow to the majority.

‘That didn’t happen. Suddenly he found himself struggling and begging people for votes. That was demeaning really.

‘And then when Rishi (Sunak) and the others said: ”No, the only deal we’d do with you is if you were serving us not the other way round.” And that of course didn’t suit him.’

Many of Mr Johnson’s supporters blame Mr Sunak for ending his premiership in the summer, after months of sleaze allegations surrounding Downing Street.

The incoming premier resigned as chancellor in the summer, shortly after then health secretary Sajid Javid to precipitate a mass ministerial walkout. 

And many of Mr Johnson’s closest former acolytes backed Liz Truss in the summer. 

He mulled trying to cement an unlikely return to power over the weekend, causing a number of high-profile figures to back him, including Foreign Secretary James Cleverley.

But late on Sunday night, after attempting to get both Mr Sunak and fellow challenger Penny Mordaunt to step down in his favour, he bowed out. 

His team insisted he made the 100-nominations needed to get on the ballot, and officially he said he would not run

Sir Iain said Rishi Sunak must ‘make it clear’ to the party that it ‘can no longer indulge in debates about policy’.

Put to him that Mr Sunak may have his job cut out for him dealing with Tory backbenchers, he told BBC Breakfast: ‘Well, maybe. I think the truth is that there is a great desire to stop now having an argument in an empty room.

‘He needs now to make it clear to his party – my party – that we can no longer indulge in debates about policy, we’ve just got to get on with governing.’

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