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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Grant Shapps Says It Was “Too Soon” For Boris Johnson To Make A Comeback

Grant Shapps leaving Downing Street (Alamy)

3 min read

Home secretary Grant Shapps has said it is “sensible under the circumstances” for Boris Johnson not to run to become Prime Minister again while parliamentary investigations into him are outstanding.

Speaking to Sky News on Monday morning, Shapps, who is backing Rishi Sunak to become party leader, said Johnson had recognised that it was “too early” to return before the privileges committee had completed its investigation into his conduct.

“I saw Boris Johnson's statement last night. He said he had the numbers, but in the interest of both party unity and the country, he said he would withdraw. 

“And I have to say, I think he did the right thing. I think that is that sensible under the circumstances,” Shapps said.

He continued: “I think it’s probably a bit too early for him to make a return. There's still that parliamentary investigation outstanding. 

“I think he’s recognised that actually within the parliamentary party – so in other words within Conservative MPs – probably it was just too soon to be returning to the fall without some of these other matters resolved."

The former prime minister announced he was dropping out of the race to succeed Liz Truss on Sunday evening despite claiming he had been "overwhelmed” with support.

He said he believed he was "well placed" to deliver a Conservative victory in 2024 and had cleared the "very high hurdle of 102 nominations".

But Johnson said he chose to drop out of the race as he had “come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do”, adding that “you can't govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament".

The former PM is still due to face a parliamentary investigation, after MPs voted in April for the privileges committee to conduct a formal inquiry into whether he had misled Parliament over Downing Street parties.

Only Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt have officially declared so far they are running to replace Truss as party leader.

All candidates will need to obtain 100 nominations from MPs by 2pm on Monday. If two or more candidates hit that threshold, indicative votes will be held by MPs this evening and the final two candidates will be voted on by party members.

Shapps also dismissed concerns that it was undemocratic for the prime minister to be selected by MPs and Conservative party members. 

“We elect a party and we elect individuals as members of that party. And the 2019 manifesto is actually the thing, the document if you like, that Rishi is standing on,” he told Sky News.

He added that the MPs selecting the next prime minister “still the same individuals” elected under the 2019 manifesto.

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