The rumor mill was seemingly set into action by his ex-mistress, Petronella Wyatt, who wrote on Twitter: ‘A source at Number 10 tells me that Boris Johnson intends to stand down as Prime Minister on Monday, in order to run for the Tory leadership.’
The Conservative leader’s critics began to worry that this may indeed be his next move – with Downing Street later issuing a formal denial.
Later in the day, Ms Wyatt posted another tweet saying she had just been kidding.
“I should point out, now that Number 10 have issued strenuous denials, that my tweet was, er, a joke,” she said.
Even if Mr. Johnson had a master plan to become PM once again, the rules of leadership elections do not allow for it.
They state: ‘A leader who resigns is not eligible to contest the subsequent leadership election.’
This is reinforced in page 18 of the Conservative constitution which adds: ‘A Leader resigning from the Leadership of the Party is not eligible for re-nomination in the consequent Leadership election.’
But many people on Twitter insisted it was still plausible and were left unimpressed by Ms Wyatt’s attempt at humor.
Someone named Pam wrote: ‘Not a very good joke considering it was totally believable.’
Another person called John wrote: ‘And it would so obviously have been a joke if we were speaking of any other PM. In BJ’s case though…’
Ms Wyatt, who had an affair with Mr Johnson between 2000 and 2004, has previously compared him to warmongering Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Boris is the best liar we have ever had as Prime Minister, and has successfully perpetuated the notion that all politicians lie, and so he is no worse than the next one,” she said.
“Boris’s obsession with his own divine right will tear apart his party and cause collateral damage to the country.”
But she admitted she ‘couldn’t help but feel sorry’ for him as he resigned on Thursday as ‘politics is a very nasty game’.
It comes as the Conservative leadership content heats up – with nine candidates at present, just days after a catastrophic collapse in support forced Mr. Johnson’s resignation.
Former health secretaries Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid both pledged to slash corporation tax as they announced separate leadership bids.
Meanwhile, outsider candidate Tom Tugendhat pledged to back the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill if elected leader.
Two serving Cabinet ministers, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, revealed their intention to run for leader in the space of an hour on Saturday.
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak, Attorney General Suella Braverman and ex-minister Kemi Badenoch have also launched their own bids.
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