Tories 'Finished' If Boris Johnson Stages Comeback As PM, Says Polling Guru

·2-min read

The Conservative Party would be “finished” if Boris Johnson staged a comeback, a leading elections expert has said.

It comes as the former prime minister preparers for a live TV grilling over the partygate scandal.

Lord Hayward, the Tory polling guru, warned Johnson and his allies it would be an “utter joke” for him to try and return to office.

“The clear indication is he is a serious negative for most people,” he said. “People have moved away from Boris in numbers.”

Rishi Sunak was slowly “pulling the party up” in the polls, the veteran elections analyst added, as he was personally more popular as leader.

“What seems to be happening the longer he is in as prime minister the less of an impact Boris and partygate is having,” he said.

Since Johnson left office, his allies have persistently touted the idea he could return, with the former PM coming close to taking on Sunak in the leadership contest that followed the downfall of Liz Truss.

But Lord Hayward said: “The electorate, having had two different prime ministerial changes last year, there is no credibility whatsoever you would have another one and not say the Tory party is finished.

“It would be an utter joke,” he said. “The electorate would not accept another change.”

Lord Hayward said the partygate scandal while “diminishing” as an issue “remains a problem” for the Tories ahead of the local elections in May.

The polls will be seen as a major test for Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer in advance of the general election which is expected to be held next year.

“If the polls were tomorrow the Conservatives would lose large numbers of seats,” Lord Hayward said.

“They wouldn’t lose as many as they would have done four weeks ago or eight weeks ago.

“They have moved from a very difficult position to a difficult position no more than that.”

The Conservatives are currently at around 27% in the polls. Lord Hayward said they would need to increase that to around 32% to have any hope of picking up seats in May, a “big ask”.

Despite the large Labour poll lead, Tory MPs will take heart from Lord Hayward’s conclusion that the Opposition’s sizeable poll lead appears to be soft and he was “not sold” on Labour being the “absolutely bought-in victors of the next election”.

It comes as Johnson prepares to make public his defence against accusations from the Commons privileges committee that he misled MPs when he said no rules had been broken in Downing Street. He will appear in front of the committee in a live showdown on Wednesday afternoon.