> Peer claims Boris Johnson said he does not want to resign as Prime Minister

Peer claims Boris Johnson said he does not want to resign as Prime Minister

The claims could be raised at Monday night’s first head-to-head BBC television leadership debate between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, as the battle to succeed Mr Johnson in 10 Downing Street hots up.

There appears to be significant support among the party’s membership against the Tory MPs who forced him out earlier this month.

It raises the possibility that more members might vote to sign the petition to keep Mr Johnson than vote for either Mr Sunak or Ms Truss in the leadership election.

Conservative members have been signing the petition calling for a confirmatory vote on MPs’ decision to oust Mr Johnson at a rate of nearly 2,000 a day since it was launched last week.

Anyone who signs it is asked to hand over their membership number when they sign up. Lord Cruddas said fake membership numbers are quickly found and their names are not counted.

The names are being sent to Andrew Stephenson, the chairman at Conservative Campaign Headquarters in Westminster.

Lord Cruddas told The Telegraph how Mr Johnson had personally invited him to lunch last Friday. The pair dined alone, although Mr Johnson’s wife Carrie arrived half an hour before Lord Cruddas left, carrying their baby daughter Romy in her arms and accompanied by the Johnsons’ son Wilf.

“Boris thanked me for my ‘Boris on the ballot’ campaign. He said he was enjoying following it and he wished me well,” he said.

“He said he could understand the membership’s anger at what had happened. He said that he wished that he could carry on as Prime Minister. He said he does not want to resign.”

Asked by the peer if he would “wipe away” his resignation immediately with “a magic wand”, Mr Johnson reportedly replied: “I would wipe away everything that stops me being PM in a second.”

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