LONDON — Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been forced to deny that he is plotting to oust Theresa May as Prime Minister, following reports in two Sunday newspapers that he intends to do so.
“Mail on Sunday tripe – I am backing Theresa may. Let’s get on with the job,” Johnson tweeted just after 11.00 p.m. BST on Sunday, responding to the front page of the paper, which claims “BORIS SET TO LAUNCH BID TO BE PM AS MAY CLINGS ON.”
A similar story also appeared on the front page of the Sunday Times, claiming that several senior cabinet ministers are urging the former London Mayor to launch a power grab in Downing Street.
The Times reports that five cabinet ministers have urged him to stand against May. “He has been inundated with messages of support,” one ally reportedly told the paper.
“We are facing a populist and they have realised we need someone who can talk to the people. We need a Brexiteer. Boris is the only option with the liberal values, Brexit credentials and popular appeal.”
Rumours of a possible leadership challenge from Johnson come as May only just manages to hold onto the premiership, following a humiliating failure to achieve a majority in the House of Commons following Thursday’s election.
May called an election in April in an attempt to increase her slim majority, put the plan backfired spectacularly and she now faces the prospect of a minority government backed by a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.
The terms of such a deal were thought to have been agreed on Saturday evening, but just before midnight, a statement from the DUP suggested that talks are ongoing.
Following David Cameron’s resignation after his defeat in last summer’s EU referendum, Johnson was seen as one of the front-runners to become next Tory leader, and as a result, prime minister.
However, Johnson shocked British politics by pulling out of the race during a speech where he was widely expected to announce his candidacy for the leadership.
“I must tell you, my friends, you who have waited faithfully for the punchline of this speech, that having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in parliament I have concluded that person [the next Tory leader] cannot be me.”
That withdrawal paved the way for May to effectively walk into Number 10, with every other candidate in the Tory leadership race standing down.
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