The debate occurred as Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss went head-to-head in a debate on BBC One to outline their policies as candidates to be the next Tory leader and Prime Minister. As the two final candidates have now been chosen, many Tories have criticised Sunak and Truss and have petitioned for Boris Johnson to be added to the ballot alongside the former Chancellor and Foreign Secretary.
On Monday it was reported that over 10,000 Conservative members signed the petition to have the option of Mr Johnson remaining Prime Minister.
Those behind the petition have said that Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have a “vested interest” in Mr Johnson being gone and added that it would be “suicidal” for the Tories for Boris to leave Number 10.
Speaking to GB News host Dan Wootton, senior reporter Benjamin Butterworth said: “What I would say is that 10,000 members is maybe one in 16 conservative party members, so the idea that this is some kind of insurgence of a majority, there’s not the evidence for that yet at all.
“Labour members tried to take the Labour Party to court over its decision making over who should be on the leadership ballots and the courts ruled in that case that these sorts of decisions are up to parties internally and can’t be affected by the courts, so I suggest that precedent suggests that this legal case is unlikely to get anywhere.”
Former Tory MEP, David Campbell Bannerman who set up the petition with Tory peer Lord Cruddas said that replacing Boris Johnson would “guarantee a Labour victory”.
The petition states: “The membership are very upset about what has happened to our elected leader.
“I demand Boris Johnson is added to the ballot as an option for the members to vote upon in the forthcoming election.”
Mr Butterworth added: “Boris Johnson is the only Prime Minister who has been ousted because he lacked the basic decency of public office.
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“All of those predecessors that you mention [Margaret Thatcher] they had some kind of policy decision that eventually became too toxic and too controversial.
“Boris Johnson lied over what happened regarding parties, he lied over the Chris Pincher interview process…”
Mr Johnson’s father, Stanley Johnson snapped back: “I’m not going to sit here next to you and hear you toss words out like ‘lie’ I’m not having that.”
Mr Butterworth added: “Well, did he tell the truth about the Partygate?”
Mr Johnson Sr replied: “Well he certainly did. As far as I’m concerned, he has not been found to have lied. There is no evidence of this, but I don’t want to go down that route.
“You all ought to be careful about the way you use language.”
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