Truss on whether Boris Johnson will be in her cabinet
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Boris Johnson has little more than a month left in office after being ousted by a mass resignation of his ministers. William Hague, former Conservative leader, has now offered advice to his potential successors — Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak — warning them that Mr Johnson will be a problem for whoever wins, regardless of whether they have been unwavering in their support or not.
Mr Hague, who led the party from 1997 to 2001, called on those involved to make Mr Johnson see the truth of what has happened during his time in office.
Fifty-seven Tory ministers resigned in the run-up to Mr Johnson’s own resignation.
He will, however, stay on until September 6 until a new leader is elected, a decision based on conduct rather than policy, according to Mr Hague, and something he said was “unprecedented” in modern politics.
Prior to this, Mr Johnson was accused of breaking lockdown rules by attending work gatherings in Downing Street — a debacle which later widely became known as “party gate”.
This in turn led to a no-confidence vote which Mr Johnson won 211 votes to 148.
Speaking on The Rest is Politics podcast, Mr Hague said Mr Johnson has many talents — such as writing and his love of history — which he should turn his attention to instead, rather than attempt to clamber his way back into No10.
Addressing former Downing Street director of communications, Alastair Campbell, and former cabinet minister Rory Stewart, Mr Hague said: “I was alerting [Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak] to the fact that this is going to be a problem for whoever wins.
“Even for Liz Truss, who is loyal to Boris, I was pointing out that there aren’t any prime ministers in history who’ve been enthusiastic about their successor…
“That’s going to be true — particularly of this performance point because the Boris performance — the show is going to have to go on.
“And that is going to mean writing things and saying things that upset the new prime minister.”
He continued: “So first of all get ready for that and secondly they have to just not entertain the idea that he can come back, that he should be an influential figure in the party again.
“I was really saying, like Theresa May when she refused to applaud Boris when he left the last PMQs, we stand out of respect for the office but we don’t applaud anymore.
“Just don’t encourage him — and that the whole party has to do that. [Liz Truss] hasn’t encouraged the idea he could serve in his government if she wins.
“Well [Boris Johnson] might well think [he’s Berlusconi] and that is where everybody — even those who are his real friends — have to disabuse him of that because no one can say it worked out very well.”
Silvia Berlusconi served as Prime Minister in four Italian governments and bid to become president at the beginning of this year at the age of 85 years old.
The media tycoon has faced scandals over the years, from being locked up for bribing a firm’s taxpayers — this conviction was later overturned — to being accused of paying for sex from a minor. This conviction was also overturned.
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Mr Hague added: “To be hounded from office by your own party, not over policy, but over the conduct of government is something unprecedented in our country in modern times.
“And his friends have to say, ‘Look, that’s the honest truth of what’s happened’. Boris has a great gift for writing, a passion for nature, a love of history…
“Think what a great life he could have if he just said ‘well to hell with all that politics, I’m going to do the other things that I enjoy’.
“He would be far less irritating to his successors. They have to try and steer him down that path, probably impossible so they’re probably doomed to have him causing mayhem on a regular basis.”
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