Boris Johnson tipped to become party chairman by Jacob Rees-Mogg
Boris Johnson has been touted as the next Conservative chairman by Jacob Rees-Mogg after Nadhim Zahawi was sacked from the post on Sunday.
The former business secretary argued that Mr Johnson had “all the qualities” to take on the role in a move that would involve a return to the Tory frontbench after just four months.
Speaking to Camilla Tominey, The Telegraph’s associate editor, on her GB News politics programme, Mr Rees-Mogg said that it had been a “mistake” to remove Mr Johnson from Downing Street in September.
“He has all the right attributes for a party chairman… He is charismatic, he rallies the troops,” Mr Rees-Mogg said. “He's a sort of fully loaded Conservative. So I think that type of personality would be a very good one for a party chairman.”
A second Conservative MP told The Telegraph: “He raises a crowd wherever he goes, and I’m sure he has the ability to fill the coffers better than other people.
“It’s not as daft as it sounds – who else in the party could take on that really crucial role of fundraising, getting party morale up and getting activists out on the streets?”
Johnson a 'very divisive' figure
But Robin Walker, a Tory MP and chairman of the education select committee, warned Mr Johnson’s return would prove “very divisive” and urged the party to “look forward, not back to the past”.
Downing Street indicated there would be no imminent decision on Mr Zahawi’s replacement, and that Rishi Sunak wanted to take his time to decide on the right person.
Matt Vickers, the deputy Tory chairman who represents the Red Wall constituency of Stockton South, emerged as one of a handful of early bookies’ favourites. A close political ally of the Prime Minister, he has wide-ranging experience in Parliament, having sat on the home affairs and levelling up select committees.
Brandon Lewis and Oliver Dowden – both of whom have served as party chairmen before – were suggested by backbenchers as figures they would want to see return to the fold.
One MP told The Telegraph: “I don’t think it’s time to give someone a first shot. It should be someone who has already done the job, simply because of the seriousness of the job at hand with an election round the corner.”
Another backbencher, who liked Mr Zahawi but felt the time had been right for him to go, was more downbeat, saying: “Goodness knows who we’ll replace him with.”
Appointing Mr Dowden would trigger a mini-reshuffle, as he currently holds the Cabinet role of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, was also suggested by supporters who talked up his knowledge of the party as a former chief whip.
Priti Patel also emerged as an outsider candidate as sources close to the former home secretary did not rule out her return to the Cabinet.
While she has previously turned down the chairman role, it is understood Ms Patel would be more open to considering the post this time around and she remains well-liked among the Brexiteer Right of the Party.