Comic Book Folk React To… Boris Johnson Being Prime Minister Again

I just tried to explain the current British political situation to an American comic book executive by comparing it to the American electoral system. Basically, Britain does not have a directly elected President. instead, we only vote for a local representative, our MP or Member of Parliament. It's like if you merged the Electoral College with the Legislative branch. You vote for your Governor/Senator/Representative. And the leader of the largest party within the legislative would get to be President. If enough of them changed their minds, they could force a change of leader – and as a result, President – without having to hold a General election. The party would just vote for a new leader amongst themselves according to their party rules.

Comic Book Creators React To... Boris Flying Back to the UK

And so that is what has happened in the UK this year, unprecedentedly twice. Boris Johnson was deposed by his Conservative Party MPs and did not choose to stand in the subsequent Conservative Party leadership election. Now Liz Truss has been forced to resign after the lack of support – even open hostility – from her MPs was made clear. And it looks like Boris Johnson – still an MP – may have cut short his holiday in the Dominican Republic and may currently be on a plane flying into the UK to stand for the leadership of the Conservative Party and, if elected, become Prime Minister again.

The Guido Fawkes website has been tallying up which British MPs have declared who they will be supporting. Only three candidates have received support, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, former Chancellor Of The Exchequer Rishi Sunak and former Secretary of State for Defence and current Leader Of The House Of Commons Penny Mordaunt with, as of writing, 45, 31 and 15 MPs support respectively. That is out of a current total of 357 sitting Conservative MPs. A candidate will need 100 MPs to declare support to get on the ballot. As it stands, it is looking very much like a Rishi Sunak Vs Boris Johnson situation.

And here's the thing that doomed Liz Truss more than anything. The people who can depose a sitting Conservative Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party are the elected Members Of Parliament belonging to that party. That is a different electoral base for who votes for the leader in the first place, which is the ordinary member of the public who are also paid-up members of the Conservative Party.

Boris Johnson still had the support of the party but not its MPs. Liz Truss had the support of her party, but not its MPs. Will the party elect someone who doesn't have the support of the MPs again, and so we have the same thing happen in the New Year? It's possible.

Does Boris Johnson even want the position again, or does he just enjoy being feted by party members and MPs who do genuinely support him? Boris Johnson won the last General Election soundly, and the party has seen themselves fall apart with him. Many of his MPs owe their win to Boris' ability to gain electoral support in places Conservatives generally don't reach, such as what is referred to as the Red Wall, a row of traditionally Labour-voting constituencies crossing the country from the North East to the North West, which saw swathes switch Blue at the last election. Conservative MPs in those regions believe that without Boris Johnson, they don't have a hope of holding their seat.

However, Boris Johnson has been exposed as a habitual liar, an untrustworthy oaf, who covers up the crimes of his friends. I know, sounds like any politician, but he's become quite open about it, and it led to his MPs withdrawing their trust. Might that not matter so much now?

But Boris does have a legacy, he got Brexit done, he got the Tories elected, he was London Mayor for two terms, he is generally liked, and however bad he was, he was nowhere near as bad as Liz Truss. Does he really want to ruin his legacy by taking the job back and risk proving that, in such economic circumstances, actually, he is as bad as Liz Truss? I am also being told that the local Conservative party apparatchics have been telling their MP that they have to back Boris Johnson for leader, whatever their opinion, or face being deselected for the next General Election.

Previously most MPs backed Rishi Sunak, but the party sees him as a know-it-all, not right-wing enough, geek. Penny Mordaunt is definitely right-wing enough and may have more of a sensible head on her shoulders than Liz Truss did, but will she get the backing of enough MPs? And will MPs want to give the rest of the party the chance to vote in someone who is basically Liz Truss-lite?

So this is where we stand. Rishi Sunak, who warned everyone about the impact of Liz Truss' economic plans, probably should win on that basis alone. But either Boris Johnson or Penny Mordaunt could take him down with a well-placed blow to the solar plexus. And right now, Boris is choosing his mid-flight movie. Terminator 2? He did resign with the words "hasta la vista baby" on his lips, after all.

Comic Book Creators React To... Boris Flying Back to the UK

Okay, that's me done. What are other comic book and comic book-adjacent folk saying after this afternoon's rants?

Jonathan Christopher Matthewson: The Times reports that BORIS IS EXPECTED TO RUN for leader. What an absolute shower!!!

Tim Pilcher: Dear @BorisJohnson, don't you even ****ing DARE think about it.

Chris Claremont: OFGS: news now has Boris Johnson as a possible replcement for Liz Truss!

Stephen Fry: no no no no no NO! Under absolutely no circumstances. Ever. Ever ever ever, d'you hear?

Neil Gaiman: Liz Truss has managed the extraordinarily feat of making me feel sorry for Tory MPs…. Now we've got Sunak to come, then Boris again, then a random Tory MP who is slipped the runes by Boris before he vanishes off the to Seychelles, then a tub of Lard as Prime Minister before we get a General Election.

Duncan Jones: Britain needs a new law. If a party has to replace the leader it had in a GE with a party chosen one with no mandate, and that person resigns or dies… a snap General Election should be automatically triggered. This can't go on.

John Reppion: Glad to see Truss gone, of course. Let's not forget though, Boris Johnson is still the very worst Prime Minister we've ever had, and everything that is happening now is still all his fault. His premiership 100% caused all of this.

PJ Holden: For "national interest" read "boris' interest" (Though im not convinced, he's not going to get a second pension and he's already making bank on international talks—would another failed prime ministerialship help that?)

Gary Frank:Truss is an imbecile and a Libertarian zealot but at least she believes in SOMETHING. Now we're threatened with the return of entitled bullshit in human form Alexander Johnson and his concocted, shambling alter-ego "Boris" the clown.

Gary Erskine: So, Larry the Cat for PM then?

John McCrea:Boris will be back

James Peaty: No, can't see that.

Mike Collins: Mordant sailing between the two warring factions and seizing the headland

John McCrea: what about now?

James Peaty: Nope, still can't see it. The threshold for the ballot will be set be too high for him to get onto it. Bringing him back would add to the chaos and madness. And that's precisely what they don't want. I think Johnson is floating this to scupper Sunak.

At this point, I got involved and put my money where my mouth was.

Rich Johnston: Set for 100. He has 44 declared so far, above the others.

James Peaty: Showing your hand early and publicly is never wise.

Rich Johnston: Tenner bet he's on the ballot or runs unopposed?

James Peaty: Sure.

Damn, I'm involved now. What's the betting Rishi and Penny get into bed together to try and tag team to take down Boris? That's where I'd put my money as well…

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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