WILL he run? Will the blond bombshell grab the ball and save the Tory tribe from extinction?
Talk of Boris Johnson returning “in the national interest” electrified Westminster last night, and delighted the one-in-three party members who believe he should never have been ditched in the first place.
It also appalled the Tory high command desperate to keep BoJo out at any price.
Red Wall Tory MP Marco Longhi, elected in Johnson’s 2019 landslide, urged him to stand, telling the BBC: “A very significant majority of my constituents would be very pleased if Boris came back.
“He has got all the big decisions right.”
But party grandees — the Men in Grey Suits — last night staged a ruthless stitch-up to block him.
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Candidates have to raise 100 votes by 2pm Monday just to reach the starting gate.
The clear hope is that only one, Rishi Sunak, will clear such a high bar.
The ex-Chancellor’s closest rival — new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt — stood aside, perhaps on a promise to keep his Treasury job.
Party chiefs believe Penny Mordaunt, Kemi Badenoch, Ben Wallace and Suella Braverman would struggle to amass 100 names.
So why not avoid a leadership bloodbath altogether and leave Rishi to be crowned as the unity candidate?
That will jar with BoJo loyalists who have not forgiven the millionaire ex-banker for knifing their champion.
Desperate for peace and quiet
Boris, who is enjoying himself and making a fortune on the U.S speaking circuit, will only run if he is certain of victory.
Support may be strong in the country where real election votes count, but in Westminster, the Remainers have never forgiven him for Brexit.
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And there is the vindictive Labour-led kangaroo court trying to nail Boris for lying to Parliament over Partygate.
Yet Rishi, too, has lost some of his big-spending Covid-era lustre.
He is blamed for raising National Insurance. And his failure to beat clunky Liz Truss in the leadership hustings raised questions about his political skills.
But the party is desperate for a period of peace and quiet, if only to avoid a Labour landslide at the next election.
Almost anything would be better than the Truss nightmare.
Her 45-day reign made history for all the wrong reasons, from the death of Queen Elizabeth II to the near-collapse of the UK economy.
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She should perhaps never have run in the first place. Certainly, she should never have been elected.
For the Tories, now split top to bottom, her rise to Prime Minister will go down as an act of political suicide.