Boris Johnson by-election ‘will single-handedly rejuvenate the Uxbridge economy’
Boris Johnson supporters would flood his constituency and boost the local economy if he faces a by-election triggered by the partygate inquiry, a staunch ally of the former prime minister has said.
Tory MP Sir James Duddridge predicted the influx to Uxbridge and South Ruislip would be so great that people would be unable to get “a hotel room or a table for dinner for miles”, with allies mobilising “one hell of an operation”.
If the parliamentary privileges committee finds that Mr Johnson “knowingly or recklessly” misled MPs over what he knew about Covid parties in Downing Street, it could recommend a series of sanctions – including barring him from the Commons.
A suspension of more than 10 days would trigger a recall petition, which could in turn ultimately lead to a by-election.
It comes as the Government’s most senior scientific adviser appeared to take a swipe at Mr Johnson’s claims that a leaving do held in No 10 during the pandemic was essential to boost morale in the workplace.
Taking questions at the Institute for Government think tank on Friday, Sir Patrick Vallance was asked whether he would have advised that such a gathering was within the rules.
He said: “I’ve been pretty clear – I’m on the public record ... saying I think that the advice was there for everybody and everybody should follow it.”
‘Flooded with Boris supporters’
But while Sir James believes it will be “very difficult” for the committee to find Mr Johnson guilty, as there is “no smoking gun”, he suggested a vote on the ex-premier’s political future would actually be good for the area – with Uxbridge “flooded” with supporters from across the nation.
“I’ll support Boris in whatever he chooses to do,” Sir James told The Telegraph.
“I think he needs to keep his options open. If he did have to fight a by-election, we could mobilise one hell of an operation.
“Personally, I’d want to drop everything and fight alongside him for the campaign. I would imagine Uxbridge would be flooded. It probably will single-handedly rejuvenate the Uxbridge economy.
“It will be flooded with Boris supporters through the whole of the country. You won’t be able to get a hotel room or a table for dinner for miles.”
Ex-PM urged to start spending now
One ally of Mr Johnson also suggested he may be well-advised to front-load spending in his seat in anticipation of a by-election, as there is not yet a campaign cap in place.
It would “presumably” be “advisable” to bear in mind that such a vote is possible, they said - adding: “You may point out that there’s no electoral limit as to what a person could spend in their constituency now, but when an election is triggered, there’s a very strict limit.
“Remember, Boris has built ... I’ve seen reports, between £5 million and £8 million. He can spend as much of that as he wants until the whole thing’s triggered.”
In the run-up to elections and referendums, there is a regulated period that puts a cap on campaign spending.
The limit varies for each candidate depending on the number of eligible voters in their chosen constituency.
Any sanction issued by the committee will be subject to the approval of MPs in the Commons.