Boris Johnson is understood to have approached Rishi Sunak with a proposal to join forces in order to put a ‘unity candidate’ forward in the race to replace Liz Truss.
When the former prime minister stepped down in September, he compared himself to the Cincinnatus and said: “Like Cincinnatus, I am returning to my plough.”
Cincinnatus was a former Roman Statesman, who was believed to have preferred farming to politics. However, during the fifth century BC, Cincinnatus returned to politics by popular demand during a time of crisis.
Johnson’s comparison to the Roman Statesman have led to rumours of him planning a return to Downing Street in the future, rumours that have gathered pace since Truss resigned after just 44 days in charge.
“Get back together”
According to Telegraph reports, Johnson is pressing Sunak to reach out and “get back together” in a remarkable olive branch after their public falling out at the top of government.
Sunak was pulling narrowly ahead of Johnson among Tory MP nominations on Thursday night in a bid to claim the leadership victory he missed last month.
The former chancellor was leading on 29 Tory MP declarations on Thursday night, followed by 24 for Mr Johnson and 11 for Ms Mordaunt.
Only MPs who secure nominations from 100 of the close to 360 Tory MPs will make it into the first round.
An ally of Johnson told the Telegraph: “If the Tories are serious about winning in 2024 and want to stop a general election before then they need to revert to the guy with a mandate who is a seasoned campaigner.
“They need someone to take the fight to Labour. There’s no point going to a yellow box junction without knowing how you are going to get out of it. Rishi should make contact and work out how the two of them can get back together.”
The former MP will fly back from a holiday in the Caribbean as early as Friday and meet backers for a campaign led by Jacob Rees-Mogg.
No prime minister has returned for a second stint after leaving office since Labour’s Harold Wilson and before that Sir Winston Churchill, Johnson’s British political icon.