Boris-backers meet to discuss ‘democracy’ as Sunak faces ‘disaster’

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Boris Johnson’s supporters met in Soho to discuss “party democracy” amid concerns Rishi Sunak could face an electoral “disaster” in May, a report has claimed. Around 40 Tories gathered at L’Escargot restaurant at 7pm on Wednesday and many of them were members of the main Bring Back Boris WhatsApp group.

Ex-Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg attended the meeting alongside Southend MP James Duddridge and former MEP David Campbell-Bannerman.

Members of the House of Lords were due to attend but were delayed by votes in the upper chamber.

According to the Telegraph, one person at the meeting said it was a moment to “console each other – people are forlorn about what has happened” to Mr Johnson’s third leadership bid.

They added: “This was not the Gunpowder Plot happening.”

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A second claimed: “Boris loyalists are shell-shocked and they are looking for a solution to it next year.

“All scenarios were explored including whether he will return next year.”

Another person at the meeting told “It was more about party democracy and not specifically bringing back Boris. Although it was attended by Boris supporters.”

Despite speculation about Mr Johnson’s return, Mr Rees-Mogg told the ex-Prime Minister’s allies that they had to be loyal to Mr Sunak.

Mr Johnson was invited to the meeting but was not in attendance.

The Telegraph’s Christopher Hope suggested sympathetic MPs believe “the time for him to return is July, after the May local elections which are forecast to be a disaster for the Conservatives”.

He added: “That would allow him to get past the Privileges committee which is examining whether he lied to Parliament deliberately over ‘partygate’.”

When Mr Johnson pulled out of last month’s race to replace Liz Truss in Number 10, the former Prime Minister said: “I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time.”

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Mr Johnson received 100 nominations needed to challenge Mr Sunak for the top job, according to 1922 Committee chair Sir Graham Brady.

However, he withdrew from the race over concerns about disunity in the Conservative Party under his leadership.

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