Saturday 17 March 2018

Johnson bides his time over PM push

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Picture: Eddie Keogh
Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Picture: Eddie Keogh

Gordon Rayner and Steven Swinford

Boris Johnson's bid to replace Theresa May is now a matter of "when, not if", according to allies of his.

Mr Johnson has the backing of several cabinet colleagues to make a move against Mrs May, but it is understood he has "no intention" of mounting a leadership challenge against a sitting prime minister.

Instead, he is said to be biding his time for a "bloodless coup", which is most likely to take place over the summer when senior Tories tell Mrs May it is time for her to go.

The comments came as Mrs May promised she would start to "listen to the party" rather than a cabal of her closest aides after ministers demanded a radical change in her leadership style.

George Osborne, the former chancellor, described the prime minister as "a dead woman walking" yesterday, adding the only remaining question was "just how long she is going to remain on death row".

Mr Johnson is keen to avoid being seen to wield the knife and is also desperate to avoid derailing the start of Brexit talks next Monday.

He also wants to avoid causing the sort of turmoil that could force another election and put Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, in Number 10.

Other voices within the party want to keep Mrs May in power until autumn 2018, when constituency boundary changes will come into force, favouring the Conservatives.

One close ally of Mr Johnson said: "Would he challenge a sitting prime minister? No.

"There will be a leadership contest but he won't trigger it.

"It's a question of when, not if.

"He sees no point in jumping in now, when we need stability for the start of Brexit negotiations."

Irish Independent

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