'My dad died of COVID - Boris Johnson is ripping open wounds'

Rivka lost her father, 72, to COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

A member of COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice has told Yahoo News UK Boris Johnson's reported intention to run for prime minister again is "ripping open wounds".

Another Tory leadership contest has been triggered after Liz Truss resigned as PM on Thursday amid deeply toxic political and economic fallout from her mini-budget.

Johnson has emerged as a contender alongside former chancellor Rishi Sunak and Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt.

Read more: Tory party branded 'complete joke' amid reports Boris Johnson could return as PM

However, the prospect of the disgraced former prime minister's comeback has sparked backlash, with the COVID-19 Bereaved Families For Justice group describing it as "devastating".

"[This is] the man who partied whilst we had to say goodbye to our loved ones over a screen, and then spent six months months lying to us about it," said spokesperson Lobby Akinnola.

"The man who joked about ‘letting the bodies pile high’ while he refused to learn lessons from the first wave and let even more people die in the second."

Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a speech on his last day in office, outside Downing Street, in London, Britain September 6, 2022. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Boris Johnson left office last month after a string of scandal led to the collapse of his government. (Reuters)

Rivka, 51, a music therapist from North London, is a member of the organisation and told Yahoo News UK she was "livid" when she discovered that the disgraced former prime minister was considering a second leadership bid.

"I was absolutely furious, livid, disgusted, that he would even consider it after the damage - the harm - that he's caused to families who've suffered," she said.

She joined COVID-19 Bereaved Families For Justice after the death of her father, 73, in March 2020 from the virus.

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She and her family were unable to hold a proper funeral for him, nor were they able to sit shiva - a Jewish religious period of mourning where friends and family visit the family home to pray and pay their respects.

"It was a really, really dark and painful time, and in lockdown conditions," said Rivka.

"And then finding out... that Boris Johnson and his cronies were partying during this time whilst we couldn't see our family after the funeral...

"We couldn't even go and comfort each other, we had to go to our separate homes... I was absolutely fuming."

Rivka's father was active and worked part-time before contracting COVID in March 2020.

"My message to Boris Johnson would be: 'Don't. Don't run'", Rivka added.

"Do your job as an MP and go away, learn from your mistakes.'

"He's ripping open wounds for people like like my family."

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On Friday, foreign minister Jesse Norman said it would be "an absolutely catastrophic decision" to install Johnson - with reports that more than a dozen Tory MPs would be willing to quit the Tory party if he wins.

Elsewhere, Johnson has a number of senior Tory MPs backing his bid - including business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, defence secretary Ben Wallace, and levelling up secretary Simon Clarke.

Rivka said the prospect of Boris Johnson's return is "ripping open wounds" for her family.

Johnson's intention to run for a second time as prime minister comes just weeks ahead of him being assessed by parliament's privileges committee to see if he knowingly misled parliament over Partygate.

If he is found to have broken the ministerial code he could face suspension from parliament.

The Liberal Democrats have described it as "astonishing" the Tory party may consider electing him for a second time.

Read more: Tory battle to replace Liz Truss set up for possible Rishi Sunak versus Boris Johnson showdown

"Whatever the privileges committee decide, the British people know who he is: a man without honour, shame or decency," Liberal Democrat cabinet office spokesperson, Christine Jardine, told Yahoo News UK.

"They remember only too well how he broke the very rules he set for the public."

Labour leader Keir Starmer has said a Johnson return would “add insult to injury for the public”.

Watch: Is Boris Johnson really making a comeback?