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British politics

Can Boris really make a comeback?

Johnson: a stronger democratic claim than any other contender? Leon Neal/Getty

Rishi Sunak has maintained a “classy distance” since losing the leadership election, says Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph. “No smugness, no sniping, no schadenfreude.” He predicted Trussonomics would “send the pound sprawling and interest rates spiking”, and he was right. His original agenda might have been “uninspiring”, but it looks radical compared to what Jeremy Hunt is doing. Truss overdid the low-tax, free-market stuff, but Hunt is “running too far the other way”. His fiscal plan looks set to come in at about £35bn – “one of the biggest high-tax austerity hits in half a century”. As a veteran of Goldman Sachs, Sunak has the skills to “strike a better balance”. Allies say he has the most support among Tory MPs, who want a “quick coronation” with minimum fuss. “What could possibly go wrong?”

Enter “a certain Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson”. Strictly speaking Tory members have a “constitutional right” to vote on party leaders. That’s why there’s a plan to let them choose between the final two candidates, unless the runner-up steps aside. Boris is by far the favourite among the party faithful. He is also the reason many of the 357 Tory MPs are in parliament in the first place. His claim to No 10 is not based on some fiddly MPs’ stitch-up, but “14 million votes and a landslide victory” – a stronger democratic claim than any other contender. This might sound unbelievable, but “the unbelievable has been happening on an almost daily basis in British politics”. Some Tory MPs might hate Johnson, but “they need a winner more than anything else”.