Boris ‘more popular’ than Truss but won’t be PM again, says Tory MP

Boris Johnson 'won't be Prime Minister again' says Royston Smith

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Tory MP Royston Smith has said Boris Johnson returning to Downing Street “cannot happen” despite him being “demonstrably more popular” than the current Prime Minister because the Government “will not wear it now”. Speaking to, the MP for Southampton Itchen said he never believed either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak were ever “better than [the leader] we already had” in Mr Johnson, before suggesting another leadership contest would be tantamount to “opening up the wound” again. Mr Smith’s comments come as Liz Truss’ time in Downing Street appears in jeopardy after two cabinet minister resignations in less than a week and a Wednesday of chaos in the Commons. 

Asked whether he thought Boris Johnson could return as Prime Minister, Mr Smith said: “No, I do not think that can happen now. 

“So, I backed Jeremy Hunt in the leadership contest with Boris and then I deliberately [did not vote] in the last contest. We didn’t fall out over it, thank goodness. 

“I just wondered whether Boris would blow up in an emergency and then we had all the emergencies and, actually, he did not handle it all that badly apart from a bit of cake. 

“The other thing, of course, is that we have a Prime Minister that had 113 votes of MPs [in the leadership contest] and Rishi, who only had 137. 

“When Boris had his leadership, he got 50 percent of the MPs and when he had the vote of confidence, he had 60 percent of the MPs. 

“So, he is demonstrably more popular in this place than either of the other two. 

“In the end, that is why I said [the contest] was self-indulgent, going on for months when people were worried about their bills, and I didn’t think either of them were any better than the one we had. 

“Him making a comeback, though, I don’t think it can happen. I just don’t think anyone will wear it now. And the worry with that is if you open up that wound again, the contest, who knows where that will end?” 

Nadine Dorries, a long time supporter of Boris Johnson and former culture secretary in his cabinet, disagreed that it was too late for a return. 

She wrote on Twitter on Thursday that MPs “must demand the return” of Boris Johnson to stabilise a party struggling under Ms Truss. 

She wrote: “One person was elected by the British public with a manifesto and a mandate until January ‘25. 

“If Liz Truss is no longer PM there can be no coronation of previously failed candidates. MPs must demand the return of Boris Johnson – if not it has to be a leadership election or a GE.” 

Similar comments were made by Conservative commentator Chris Hope earlier this week. 


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Meanwhile, Downing Street sources said the Prime Minister invited Sir Graham Brady, the powerful chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers, to No 10 in a hastily-arranged meeting on Thursday.

One person in No 10 said Ms Truss was “taking the temperature” of Tory MPs with Sir Graham after the number publicly demanding her resignation doubled within just a couple of hours to more than a dozen after the chaotic scenes in the Commons that followed the loss of a Cabinet minister.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman was briefing journalists as Sir Graham was seen entering No 10 through a back door, though he was unaware the meeting had been arranged.

Earlier on Thursday, a member of the executive of the 1922 Committee of Conservative lawmakers, which sets the rules for selecting and changing the party’s leader, said the “odds are against” Britain’s Liz Truss surviving the day as Prime Minister.


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