Boris Johnson bags plush Westminster office as allies talk up leadership chances
Conservative Brexiteer Boris Johnson has nabbed a much-sought-after office in the House of Commons as allies talked up his chances of becoming the next Prime Minister.
Former minister Mike Penning told The Independent that he had agreed to swap his prime Portcullis House office with the Tory leadership hopeful to help him network with MPs and build a winning campaign.
"If Boris is going to run for the leadership, then he needs to have a full team around him and he needs the office to allow him to do that," Mr Penning said.
"He could well be the next prime minister, so it needs to be a credible office at the heart of Westminster – not a box in some annexe away from where MPs are most of the time."
The former policing minister - who has not yet declared his support for Mr Johnson - said it was "pretty obvious from my offer that I am minded to do that".
"He is a winner, as he showed in London," Mr Penning added, pointing to the ex-Cabinet minister's eight-year stint as London mayor.
The boost for Mr Johnson came as allies claimed that mounting anger over Theresa May's decision to hold talks with Jeremy Corbyn had boosted his chances of taking on the top job.
The most recent poll for the ConservativeHome website has Mr Johnson as the frontrunner on 22.8% of the vote, followed by fellow Brexiteers Dominic Raab and Michael Gove, with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt - seen as Mrs May's preferred successor - trailing the trio.
Under Tory party rules, candidates are whittled down by Conservative MPs in a series of votes before just two are put to the wider party membership in a head-to-head run off.
"Right now, Boris would win," a figure on his leadership team told The Sun.
"We will have the numbers. Before recess, five new MPs a day were approaching him."
They added: "Everybody knows Boris puts bums on seats like nobody else can, and May’s decision to invite in Corbyn pushed a lot of people towards us."
The paper also reports that former Conservative chairman Grant Shapps has joined Mr Johnson's campaign team as he vies for the support of parliamentary colleagues.