The Conservatives would be “finished” if Boris Johnson were to return as prime minister, the party’s polling guru has warned.
The former Tory leader is set to face an inquiry into whether he knowingly misled parliament over Partygate this week, which could lead to him losing his seat if MPs vote in favour of potential sanctions.
But allies believe that being cleared by the privileges committee will be a springboard for a revival in his reputation.
Commenting on the potential of ‘Cincinnatus’ making a comeback, Lord Hayward said it would be electorally damaging for the Conservative Party.
“Having had two different prime minister changes last year – there is no credibility whatsoever that we could have another one and not say the Tory party is finished,” he said. “It would be an utter joke.”
The Tory peer said Johnson is “a serious negative for most people”, adding that his personal polling remains far worse than Rishi Sunak’s.
“The population have not parked Partygate. They still view it as a Tory party matter but they are viewing it as a Boris matter,” Lord Hayward said.
He added: “Rishi gets a much, much higher rating as competent than Boris. He gets a much higher rating as trustworthy than Boris, so there is some cut-through.”
Lord Hayward also told reporters that recent council by-election results suggested a slight upturn in the Tories’ fortunes under Sunak.
While he said he still expected the Conservatives would lose seats in May, he would not expect the losses to be as great as if the elections had been held a few weeks ago.
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