Boris Johnson has arrived back in the UK for what is expected to be a bid to reclaim the Conservative leadership and win a second stint as prime minister.
The BA jet carrying the former PM back from a Caribbean holiday touched down at Gatwick Airport at 10.19 on Saturday morning.
Mr Johnson has yet to formally announce whether he will mount a challenge to succeed Liz Truss as Tory leader, but support Sir James Duddridge said he has been telling allies he is “up for it”.
Only Penny Mordaunt has so far declared her candidacy, while supporters of former chancellor Rishi Sunak say he has already secured the 100 MPs’ nominations required to join the contest by the deadline of 2pm on Monday.
Reports suggest that Mr Johnson was booed when he boarded the overnight flight back from the Dominican Republic to London late on Friday. He was on a sunshine break with wife Carrie when Ms Truss announced her resignation on Thursday and has been calling MPs from the island getaway to gauge support.
Mr Johnson’s former deputy Dominic Raab today warned Tories they will plunge the country into a Partygate “Groundhog Day” if they send him back to Downing Street as prime minister.
The former foreign secretary said that the shadow of a contempt inquiry hanging over Mr Johnson represented a “fundamental hurdle” to his ambition to return to frontline politics.
The Commons Privileges Committee will shortly begin live televised hearings at which the former PM will be grilled over allegedly lying to parliament about lockdown-breaching parties at No 10.
And the chair of the separate Commons Standards Committee, Labour MP Chris Bryant, said the process could force Mr Johnson out of parliament in a recall by-election within months – meaning yet another prime minister would be needed.
The privileges probe, chaired by Labour veteran Harriet Harman, can be stopped only by a majority vote in the House of Commons.
And a long-serving backbench Tory Andrew Bridgen today added his name to a growing list of MPs threatening to quit the party whip in order to be able to vote against Johnson if he becomes leader.