Grant Shapps has described the ousting of Boris Johnson from No 10 as “a mistake”, amid evidence that Conservative supporters regret his departure.
He said the prime minister’s record on Ukraine and Covid vaccines outweighed the scandals that brought him down.
“The party made a mistake forcing Boris out,” the transport secretary said.
“I completely concede Boris is flawed. We’re all flawed in different ways. There was nothing about Boris’s flaws that you couldn’t have known in advance.”
Mr Shapps pointed to the vaccination programme “which saved thousands of lives, maybe millions around the world” and “busting through the complete impasse of Brexit”.
“He had that force of nature to do things,” he told The Times. “Boris was probably the only person with the force of personality and creativity to do it.”
Boris Johnson ‘very confident’
Boris Johnson said he is “very confident” the Government made the “right” decisions about lockdowns.
The Prime Minister was asked to address the comments made by his former chancellor during a visit to South West London Elective Orthopaedic Centre in Surrey.
Tory leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak recently used a Spectator interview to claim independent experts were given too much power during the pandemic, with concerns about the economic and social impacts of lockdowns not properly considered.
Liz Truss, the frontrunner to become the next prime minister, during the penultimate leadership contest hustings in Norwich said she also questioned the Government’s “draconian” lockdown policy during the pandemic.
Speaking to broadcasters at the orthopaedic centre , Mr Johnson said if the Government did not lock the country down during the pandemic, “the delays for cardiac, the delays for hips, the delays for cancer treatment, or the other procedures that people care about” would have been “even greater”.
He added: “I’m just giving you my view, which is that the… about the decision to try to stop the spread of Covid, and with all the things that we did.
“Of course, the inquiry will have to look at those decisions. I’m very confident that they were the right ones. I just want to remind people of the logic because I think there’s a bit of… it all gets turned upside down.
“People say, ‘Oh, well, it was because of the lockdowns that people’s health was impaired’. Actually, the purpose of using those methods, imperfect though they were, to restrict the spread of Covid, was to reduce the huge numbers in the NHS.
“Forty-thousand people at one stage occupying beds in the NHS because of Covid, and therefore, to reduce the numbers of patients with other complaints, other sicknesses, other needs, who were displaced by Covid, and are now coming back into the NHS. That was the purpose of what we were doing.”