How Boris Johnson could plot a path to number 10
But it seems clear that being in power is an itch for Johnson that hasn’t gone away.
Insiders say he is obsessed with responding to the 14 million voters who voted Conservative in 2019, many for the first time because of him.
There are already ripples of revolt among the members. By Saturday night, 9,150 Tory members had signed a petition organized by Lord Cruddas of Shoreditch, former Party Treasurer, and David Campbell-Bannerman, former Tory MP, demanding a say in its future.
Members want a second ballot to confirm MPs’ decision to force his resignation, alongside the official leadership ballot between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.
If the Cruddas campaign were to succeed and Johnson were to win a runoff membership ballot — well, all bets are off.
But if that should come to nothing, what do we know so far? On September 5, the Conservatives would have a new leader – Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak.
Johnson would leave 10 Downing Street, with his wife Carrie and children Wilfred and Romy, taking the “perp walk” in front of the waiting cameras.
Number 10 is tight-lipped on what happens next, but Johnson is likely to return to the back seats next, as none of the candidates to replace him have said they want him in their cabinet.
Save his reputation
His first fight would be to save his political reputation. Harriet Harman, the Labor veteran who chairs a committee investigating whether Johnson misled MPs about the lockdown-breaking parties at 10 Downing St, is sharpening her quill.
She has already requested tons of WhatsApp messages, internal documents and photographs in an attempt to build a case against Johnson to prove he misled MPs from the outbox.
That could lead to a recall by-election in Uxbridge and West Ruislip, a seat Johnson only held in 2019 with a majority of 7,210.
Johnson would then be faced with a choice: either continue as an MP, fight any by-election his enemies throw at him, and return to parliament; or pack it all up and sneak out to lick his wounds.
If he were to continue as an MP, he faces a long and difficult road to political redemption. From backbench MPs, Johnson could start publishing Red Wall reports, becoming the de facto mouthpiece for the northern seats he has worked so hard to win.