Boris Johnson has been told by the Tory party that he cannot make a ‘chicken run’ to Henley at the next election, the town’s MP has said.
John Howell insisted the former prime minister would only take up the seat, which has a healthy Conservative majority, “over my dead body”.
Mr Johnson represented the Oxfordshire constituency from 2001 until 2008, when he left the Commons to become the Mayor of London.
He has been repeatedly linked with a return given that his current seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip is now highly vulnerable to Labour.
Mr Howell, who has announced he is standing down at the next election, was asked if he had struck a deal for the former prime minister to take over.
“I can absolutely deny that,” he told ITV. “I do not do deals with Boris Johnson and I have not done a deal with Boris Johnson.
“He has been told by the Conservative Party that he has to stand in his current seat.”
Asked whether there was any way Mr Johnson could return as Henley’s MP, he replied: “Over my dead body.”
Mr Johnson was reselected by local Tory members in March as the candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, where he has a 7,210 majority.
His allies have repeatedly rejected suggestions he wants to move to a safer seat, despite polls predicting that he will be ousted at the next election.
A ‘chicken run’ to the seat
Henley, which is just 18 miles away, is a more solid Conservative constituency with Mr Howell winning there by 14,053 back in 2019.
Tory sources have told the Telegraph that party bosses would more than likely try to block the former prime minister making a “chicken run” to the seat.
One said that MPs could only seek permission to relocate to another area if their seat was negatively affected by upcoming boundary changes.
In contrast, Mr Johnson is actually set to benefit by picking up more Tory voting areas, according to analysis by Electoral Calculus.
He could be ousted from Uxbridge and South Ruislip as a result of the “Partygate” inquiry, which would leave him needing a new seat.
The Liberal Democrats, who came second in Henley last time, have already drawn up an attack campaign if he returns to the town.