3 times Boris Johnson bounced back in politics

Boris Johnson's plane lands back in the UK

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Rishi Sunak has become the UK’s next Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader after Penny Mordaunt withdrew from the leadership race. Up until Sunday, October 23, former leader Boris Johnson was the figure that appeared most likely to take the job, after receiving the 100 nominations needed. He announced that while there was a good chance he could have been “back in Downing Street” by the end of the week, he pulled out of the leadership race because it is not the right thing for him to do at this time. However, he hinted that he might throw his hat in the ring to become Prime Minister once again in the future. 

In a statement, Mr Johnson said he was “overwhelmed” by the number of people encouraging him to put himself forward, and that he believed he could well win the next General Election: “I believe I am well placed to deliver a Conservative victory in 2024 – and tonight I can confirm that I have cleared the very high hurdle of 102 nominations, including a proposer and a seconder, and I could put my nomination in tomorrow.

“There is a very good chance that I would be successful in the election with Conservative Party members – and that I could indeed be back in Downing Street on Friday. But in the course of the last few days, I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do. You can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament.”

While it is not happening now, everything hints at a Mr Johnson return in the future, the Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP even famously quoting the Terminator in the House of Commons, saying “hasta la vista, baby” which translates to see you later in Spanish. 

An unlikely return would not be entirely out of the quesiton: Mr Johnson has made multiple comebacks in the past. Even after he was fired from his first job at the Times for making up a quote in 1987, he managed to land a job with The Daily Telegraph, working as its Brussels correspondent. Now, Express.co.uk takes a look at his political comebacks. 

In 2004, Mr Johnson was fired from the Conservative party’s front bench over claims about his alleged affair with journalist Petronella Wyatt. Her mother claimed Ms Wyatt had become pregnant by Mr Johnson and had an abortion. 

Mr Johnson, who was married to Marina Wheeler at the time, had described the allegations as an “inverted pyramid of piffle” and assured the then-Conservative leader, Lord Michael Howard, that they were false. 

While he was later “relieved of his responsibilities”, speaking to LBC this year, Lord Howard said in retrospect he should not have fired him, adding: “It was to do with his private life and I don’t think I should have done it.”

Despite this, he managed to come back and was back on the front bench a year later.

Later, in 2016, Mr Johnson first ran to become leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister following David Cameron’s resignation. The news came as a surprise to some as he lead the party’s Vote Leave campaign. 

Then justice secretary Michael Gove made a last-minute bid for the leadership and, as a result, was backed by the likes of Domonic Raab and Nick Boles.

Mr Johnson said at the time: “Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me.”

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He yet again bounced back from this political blow as he became Foreign Secretary in Theresa May’s cabinet. He quit two years later when he opposed the former leader’s Brexit Chequers deal. 

In his resignation letter, he wrote: “The trouble is that I have practised the words over the weekend and find that they stick in the throat. Since I cannot in all conscience champion these proposals, I have sadly concluded that I must go.”

But by the following year, he returned as leader of the Conservative party, winning the general election by a huge majority.

The Conservatives won an impressive 365 seats, the highest number and proportion of seats since 1987. 

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