Boris Johnson wants to “get back together” with Rishi Sunak and team up to crush Labour at the next general election. The former Prime Minister is thought to be ready to offer an olive branch to his former Chancellor, to back him as part of a joint ticket for the Tory leadership.
The extraordinary offer comes just three months after Mr Sunak quit the Government, leading to a catalyst of resignations from ministers.
Many Conservative members who are supporters of Mr Johnson blame the Richmond MP for his downfall in July.
Both the former Prime Minister and his Chancellor are understood to be preparing to stand in the fast-tracked leadership election to replace Liz Truss.
Candidates will need the backing of at least 100 MPs by Monday morning with members given an electronic vote to determine their preferred choice at the end of the week.
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Mr Sunak was supported by 137 MPs at the final round of voting in the summer contest, while Mr Johnson is understood to already be halfway to meeting the threshold set by the 1922 committee which organises leadership elections.
One ally of Mr Johnson told The Telegraph: “If the Tories are serious about winning in 2024 and want to stop a general election before then they need to revert to the guy with a mandate who is a seasoned campaigner.
“They need someone to take the fight to Labour.
“There’s no point going to a yellow box junction without knowing how you are going to get out of it.
“Rishi should make contact and work out how the two of them can get back together.”
If he won, Mr Johnson would be the first person Prime Minister to have two stints in No10 since Harold Wilson who was in charge from October 1964 to June 1970, and again from March 1974 to April 1976.
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However, some Tory MPs have rejected the suggestion he could return.
Tory MP John Baron said: “I would find it impossible to serve under Boris.”
Meanwhile, former party chair David Davis told LBC radio that he should “go back to the beach, frankly”.
In the last leadership campaign, Mr Sunak suggested he did not think his former boss should make a return to Government, saying the party needed “to look forward”.
However, he hailed his achievements in office, even giving him a 10/10 for delivery.
He told a hustings in July: “My views are clear, when he was great he was great and it got to a point where we need to move forward.
“In delivering a solution to Brexit and winning an election that’s a 10/10.
“You’ve got to give the guy credit for that, no-one else could probably have done that.”