Blackford: SNP preparing to fight general election as Johnson returns to UK

SNP Westminster leader says he feels a 'real sense of horror' at the prospect of Johnson returning to Downing Street as PM.

Blackford: SNP preparing to fight general election as Johnson returns to UK Parliament TV

Ian Blackford says he feels a “real sense of horror” amid speculation Boris Johnson could return to Downing Street as prime minister.

The SNP’s Westminster leader said the SNP is preparing to fight a general election as the Conservatives’ latest leadership contest continues.

Blackford’s comments come after numerous journalists were briefed that Johnson has the necessary support required were he to announce that he was standing in the leadership race.

Candidates require the backing of 100 MPs in order to make the cut to become the next leader of the Conservative Party, and in turn the new prime minister.

Blackford told STV News: “The fact that Tory MPs and Tory members once again are going to be choosing our prime minister and the rest of us are locked out – this is a Tory government that’s out of time, they should be out of office.

“But I think my real sense of horror is with the potential of Boris Johnson coming back again. I mean this is a man that was forced out of office because of the contempt that he showed for the office while in power.

“The rules didn’t apply to him. A man, of course, that was fined – the first prime minister ever to have broken the law whilst in office. I think any idea that the Tories could possibly think that Boris Johnson is fit for purpose just beggars belief.

“And, of course, we need to keep in mind that he’s due to face a privileges committee. Now goodness knows what could happen; it’s not impossible that he’s suspended from parliament and once again has to stand down if he was daft enough to be re-elected by the Tory party.

“We could be facing all this again in a matter of weeks. It really just shows how farcical this whole situation is.”

The coronavirus “partygate” scandal saw Johnson become the first prime minister to receive a criminal penalty while in office.

Meanwhile questions about the behaviour of Chris Pincher, who resigned as deputy chief whip amid sexual misconduct allegations, and how much Johnson knew about this resulted in an avalanche of ministerial resignations, finally sparking the prime minister’s exit from Downing Street.

But Tory MP Sir James Duddridge tweeted on Saturday that Johnson now has more than the 100 backers needed to enter the contest, although public declarations for the former PM are much lower than that number.

Johnson arrived at Gatwick Airport on Saturday morning with his family after breaking off a holiday in the Dominican Republic following Liz Truss’ forced resignation on Thursday.

Sky News photographed the ex-prime minister and his wife Carrie Johnson in economy on an overnight British Airways flight back from the Caribbean with their children and said the MP received “one or two boos” as he boarded.

Johnson later waved to the press gathered outside the VIP exit to the South Terminal as he walked alone to a waiting Range Rover.

The flight, which was being tracked by around 7,000 users of the FlightRadar24 website, landed 47 minutes behind schedule.

Johnson is likely to be opposed in the leadership race by his former chancellor Rishi Sunak, whose resignation was key in the former PM’s departure from Downing Street this summer, as well as Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt.

And, while he is yet to formally declare he will run, Johnson’s potential reinstatement has divided opinion even among his allies in the parliamentary party, including his former deputy prime minister and foreign secretary Dominic Raab.

Scottish Conservative Party chairman Craig Hoy refused to comment on the prospect that Johnson could run in the latest leadership contest.

Hoy told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “In relation to myself as party chairman it would be inappropriate for me to engage in speculation about candidates.”

Tory MPs will vote on Monday, and two candidates will be put forward to the Tory membership unless one pulls out, with a result being announced on Friday.

Candidates have until 2pm on Monday to secure the 100 nominations, limiting the ballot to a maximum of three candidates.

Supporters of Johnson believe that if he can make it to the last two, he will win in the final online ballot of party activists with whom he remains hugely popular.

Labour’s Daniel Johnson however said that a general election “may be necessitated by events” as he too decried the possible return of Johnson.

He told BBC Radio Scotland: “With Boris Johnson I think we’re headed for a full-blown crisis.

“It’s not just the Labour Party saying that is unacceptable, plenty of their MPs are saying it would be unacceptable and they would quit.”

Speaking about the situation the UK is now in, the Labour MSP added: “The country’s paralysed.

“I think we may very well end up in the situation where a general election is inevitable, in fact it is required to cut through the complete chaos that is at the heart of the UK Government because of the Conservative Party.

“I think we are going to have a general election, it’s a question of when, and I think it may be necessitated by events.”

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