Rishi Sunak has played down talk of a deal with Boris Johnson to find him a new safe seat for the 2024 general election, insisting the former Prime Minister has confirmed he will stand in Uxbridge.
The PM’s comments came after allies of Mr Johnson reportedly claimed he would agree not to challenge Mr Sunak’s leadership in return for a safer Tory stronghold.
Although Mr Johnson has a 7000 seat majority in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, he is thought to be vulnerable to a challenge from Labour which has made the constituency one of its big targets at the next election.
But asked if he could offer Mr Johnson a new, safer Tory seat, Mr Sunak told broadcasters: “I think the former Prime Minister has declared his intention to stand in his current seat, in Uxbridge.”
All Tory MPs intending to stand down at the next election were given an early December deadline to confirm their plans by Conservative Party HQ.
At that point, sources close to Mr Johnson reportedly confirmed the former PM’s intention to run again for the seat where he has been the MP since 2015.
But with allies of Mr Johnson still pushing for him to oust Mr Sunak, perhaps after local elections in May, there has been speculation that he may need to find a seat with a bigger Conservative majority.
Mr Johnson has kept a low profile since he ruled out running against Mr Sunak in the Tory leadership contest to replace Liz Truss in October, clearing the way for his former Chancellor to enter No10.
But he is set to be thrust back into the headlines in the next few weeks when he gives evidence in the Commons Privileges Committee investigation into whether he misled Parliament over the Partygate affair.
If he is found to have knowingly misled MPs and to have held Parliament in contempt then MPs could vote to suspend him for 14 days - a sanction which could trigger a recall by voters in Uxbridge and a possible by-election.
There was also further scrutiny over the former Prime Minister’s finances on Friday after it emerged that he received £1 million from a Tory donor to help him carry out his work as a former prime minister.
Mr Johnson, who was forced from office last summer, recorded a donation of £1m from Christopher Harborne to the Office of Boris Johnson Ltd in the latest update to the MPs’ Register of Interests.
Mr Harborne was among the donors who helped bankroll the Brexit Party and has also donated to the Conservatives.
The private limited company established by the ex-PM does not carry out commercial business and solely functions as a private office to support him as a former prime minister.
According to the parliamentary declarations, Mr Johnson has been continuing to live at a property linked to wealthy Tory donor Lord Bamford.
He declared the “use of accommodation for me and my family from December 2022 to January 2023 at an estimated value of £10,000”, provided by Lord Anthony and Lady Carole Bamford.
Since leaving office last September, Mr Johnson has declared more than £1 million in speaking fees.
In December, he recorded around £300,000 for two separate speeches.
Asked about the £1m donation, Mr Sunak said on Friday: “I’m not aware of the details of the donation but in general we have procedures in place to make sure all donations are declared transparently which I’m sure is the case here.”