The ex-Foreign Secretary sported a new haircut today, leading punters to believe he's ready to launch his bid should the PM fall in days.
Leading Tories are getting their knives out already in the belief that the Prime Minister will have to go if her deal is blasted apart by MPs in the Commons on Tuesday.
Boris told the BBC today it was "nonsense" he was offering up other jobs to colleagues, but said: "Do not underestimate the sense of responsibility I feel for Brexit… There is a real alternative".
He was asked directly today if he would run to be PM, and would only say: "I will continue to advocate what I think is the most sensible plan to get out of this mess."
And ex-DWP Secretary Esther McVey, who quit over Mrs May's Brexit deal last month, at first dodged questions on whether she could run, but then admitted she might be persuaded to.
Ms McVey told Sky's Ridge on Sunday: "If people asked me, then of course you’d give it serious concern and do it if people asked me."
She urged the PM to rip up her deal and go back to the EU again too – and blasted the decision to pay £39billion to the EU without anything firm back.
And she slapped down reports she had a breakdown in her last Cabinet meeting over Brexit, saying the only meltdown was from other ministers so they "didn't have to put their names" to backing the deal or not.
Ex-Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab also refused to rule out running too today.
"I wouldn't rule it out, but I'm not going to get sucked in to that debate," he admitted.
The news comes as:
- The PM warned that MPs have to back her plan or Jeremy Corbyn could get into No10 before Christmas
- Tories have been telling MPs that the PM will resign next Spring after Brexit if they back her deal
- Labour said they were ready to form a government as early as Wednesday if the Government falls
- But they backed away from saying they would table a vote of no confidence in the Government as was planned
Boris said on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show today that the PM could stay on and go back to Brussels in the event her deal is blasted down.
The leading Brexiteer said the "real problem" with her deal was the Northern Ireland backstop, and it "gives the power to Brussels… effectively to blackmail us and get what they want out of the future trade negotiation."
He said Britain could do "much, much better" than the PM's deal and predicted she would be defeated on Tuesday.
Boris said: "It absolutely breaks my heart to think that after all we fought for, all that we campaigned for… that we should consign ourselves to a future in which the EU effectively rules us in many many respects and yet we have no say around the table in Brussels."
His intervention today comes after Boris unveiled his pitch for the job in The Sun on Sunday, vowing to take on EU bullies and get a deal that works for everyone.
He promised that he would not hand a penny of the £39billion divorce bill to the EU until the hated backdrop – which could keep Britain trapped in the customs union – is ditched.
If they agree, he will give them half the cash and tell them the rest will follow once we have agreed a “generous zero tariff, zero quota free trade deal”.
Writing in The Sun on Sunday, Mr Johnson says: “It is time now to show our EU friends that we mean business."
Who will run to be the next Tory leader and Prime Minister?
- Boris Johnson: Today refused to rule it out and quit the cabinet over Brexit. Wants to be more hardline with the EU and ditch the Northern Irish backstop.
- David Davis: Ex-Brexit Secretary made a bid to run to be Tory leader before but didn't get far. His experience in Government could give him the edge.
- Dominic Raab: Still wants to run even though his former mentor Mr Davis is too. Not as experienced as some other candiates in Government, and quit over the Brexit deal.
- Esther McVey: Said she could run if she was asked to by colleagues.
- Sajid Javid: Sounding out MPs about whether to back him.
- Amber Rudd: Jacob Rees-Mogg wants her to team up with a Brexiteer. Yesterday refused to speculate on whether she would run.
- Jeremy Hunt: Said to be interested in running.
Jacob Rees-Mogg today urged fellow Tories to back a "unity" leadership of Boris and Amber Rudd if Mrs May is toppled.
The Somerset MP said a "leading figures from either side" should come together to "deliver the Brexit the people voted for with a global, outward-looking UK that could succeed".
The Mail on Sunday also revealed that Sajid Javid was canvassing MPs for their support on Friday.
A source said the Home Secretary was "preparing for the possibility she might be forced" to go.
He and Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom will hold a joint Christmas drinks next week, which could be laying the ground for a joint leadership bid.
David Davis is also expected to throw his hat into the ring.
Mrs May will decide on Monday whether to persist with her doomed withdrawal plan when government whips tell her exactly the full scale of the expected thrashing.
If Mrs May's deal gets rejected on Tuesday as expected, then all bets are off as to what might happen next.
She could resign as PM, Labour could try and bring down the Government, and it could even lead to Jeremy Corbyn in No10 by Christmas.
Labour's Jon Trickett told Sky this morning the party were ready to form a minority government as early as Wednesday morning.
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