The former foreign secretary has extended his lead in the betting stakes following a much-lauded performance at the centrist One Nation wing of the party’s hustings. Johnson’s campaign chief, Gavin Williamson, subsequently declared him “the only one who can put the Brexit Party back in its box” and “the one who can save the party”.
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Tory MP James Duddridge told Mason that while listening to Boris Johnson, veteran Conservative Sir Nicholas Soames had “his head in his hands like all his family has died”, while Ken Clarke sat “with his arms folded”.
All the same, Johnson’s chances of replacing May as prime minister have been further improved by an article in The Times written by three Tory moderates who describe the leadership front runner as a “proven winner”.
MPs Rishi Sunak, Robert Jenrick and Oliver Dowden argue that Johnson is a One Nation Conservative whose values can “inspire the country and revitalise our party”. They add: “He will take the fight to our opponents – Farage and Corbyn – and we will win.”
Johnson now has 40 public endorsements from his party’s MPs – 14 more than either of his nearest rivals, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt.
And the support of Sunak, Jenrick and Dowden is another “good look for Boris, as these are three ambitious, moderate ministers who will believe they are backing the candidate most likely to win next month’s contest”, says Politico’s Jack Blanchard.
So can anything can stop Boris Johnson winning the race to claim the top job?
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