The Sturminster Marshall Horror Show

Boris Johnson refuses to rule out return during Dorset visit with Nadine Dorries

Boris Johnson has refused to rule out a political comeback during a farewell trip to Dorset. The outgoing Prime Minster declined to be drawn on what he will do when he is replaced as prime minister by either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak.

Mike Taylor

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The outgoing Prime Minister in Sturminster Marshall instead put his focus on the expansion of gigabit-speed broadband, as he sought to emphasise his Government’s achievements. He visited Henbury Farm with Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries where Wessex Internet are laying fibre optics in the field.

Asked if he would rule out a comeback, Mr Johnson told reporters: “I think on the whole people in this country are more interested in their gigabit broadband than they are in the fate of this or that politician.”

Mr Johnson’s demise was ultimately triggered by the row after former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher was accused of inappropriate behaviour. Asked if he had regrets about the way allegations of misconduct had been dealt with, Mr Johnson said: “All those things have to be handled carefully and sensitively and we have processes for dealing with them, and people who have complaints should raise them in the normal way.”

Mr Johnson declined to give himself a rating out of 10 for his term in office. Asked about his plans after next Tuesday, when he is set to be replaced, Mr Johnson said: “I am concentrating on today.”

Rory Stewart, a former Conservative leadership rival of the Prime Minister, warned on Monday that Mr Johnson could try and make a comeback. “I fear we’re going to end up with a second Berlusconi or a second Trump trying to rock back in again,” the former Tory Cabinet minister said.

Mr Johnson highlighted the announcements already made which will see £1,200 going to the eight million most vulnerable households. But he added: “Whichever of the two candidates gets in next week, what the Government is also going to do is provide a further package of support for helping people with the cost of energy.

“What we’ve got to do is get through the tough months – and I’m not going to shrink from this, it is going to be tough in the months to come, it’s going to be tough through to next year.”

The price increase in gas is being driven by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, he said during a visit to Dorset. “We’re going to get through it,” Mr Johnson said. “We’re taking 26% more of our own gas from the North Sea than we did last year, we’re much less dependent on Putin’s supplies.”

He added “I just want to give people a sense of hope and perspective” because the UK was in a “strong economic position” which meant the Government had been able to provide support and it also had a “long-term British energy security strategy”.