Boris Johnson comeback ‘would be dreaded by businesses’

The possibility of a Boris Johnson return 'wouldn’t be well-received' by businesses, says Sir Howard Davies - Andrew Boyers/PA
The possibility of a Boris Johnson return ‘wouldn’t be well-received’ by businesses, says Sir Howard Davies – Andrew Boyers/PA

Businesses would dread Boris Johnson returning as prime minister, the chairman of the National Westminster Bank (NatWest) has said.

When asked how markets might react to the former Tory leader running again for Number 10, Sir Howard Davies responded: “Oh dear.”

He made the remarks after a record £1 million donation to Mr Johnson sparked yet more speculation he is planning a comeback.

Christopher Harborne, a technology investor who previously bankrolled the Brexit Party, handed over the six-figure sum last month.

The cash was declared just 48 hours after the former prime minister rallied supporters with a speech at the Carlton Club in central London.

Mr Johnson issued a crowd-pleasing pitch for lower taxes in his address, delivered at an event to mark the unveiling of a new portrait of himself.

But he faced revelations over his personal finances on Sunday, after it emerged he had benefited from an £800,000 credit facility whilst at No 10.

It was underwritten by Sam Blyth, a Canadian multimillionaire and a distant cousin, because he could not fund his lifestyle on his £164,000 prime ministerial salary.

The arrangement was cleared by the Cabinet Office, but officials told The Sunday Times they were astonished at how Mr Johnson was close to “going broke”.

Whilst it was being put in place in early 2021, Mr Blyth was being considered for the chief executive role at the British Council.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson insisted that the money was not a loan and that all his personal finances “are and were properly declared”.

He added that the former prime minister “did not in any way assist with, and was unaware of” Mr Blyth’s application for the British Council.

There is no suggestion Mr Blyth did anything wrong.

Sir Howard told the BBC that the financial markets would not be keen on Mr Johnson making a return to Downing Street in the near future.

“I think that wouldn’t be well-received at this point because people would not have a clue what his economic policy was,” said Sir Howard.

“Unfortunately running the country is not quite the same as running his own finances, where it seems that there are mysterious people prepared to fill any budget gaps.”

Talk of return ‘destabilising the party’

His remarks came as a senior Tory MP warned her colleagues Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, cannot be deposed without triggering another election.

Caroline Nokes, who chairs the House of Commons women and equalities committee, said those MPs clamouring for Mr Johnson’s return are “destabilising the party”.

She said: “I don’t think you can legitimately have another prime minister without a general election. I would caution colleagues to look at the polls and decide whether that’s a good idea.

“I want to hear less from those who are seeking to sow division and discord and want change and upheaval just for the sake of it.”

On Mr Johnson, she added: “Now is not his time. We need sensible, grown-up politicians who are going to tackle the issues the country is facing with determination, with thought and with careful policies.”

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