Where is Boris Johnson now?

Former foreign secretary turns to subject of otters after burka storm

Boris Johnson and Theresa May at cabinet
(Image credit: Stefan Rousseau/AFP/Getty Images)

After the furore over his burka comments in The Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson has chosen a less controversial topic for his weekly column today: otters.

Two week ago, the former foreign secretary compared Muslim women wearing veils to letter-boxes and bank robbers, prompting widespread condemnation and a Conservative Party investigation.

He has refused to apologise, but today wrote a more low-key column about endangered animals.

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The storm came just weeks after he dramatically resigned from his ministerial post, less than 24 hours after Brexit Secretary David Davis stood down.

Although Johnson is no longer part of Theresa May’s Cabinet, he remains in Parliament as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

Since resigning, he has been on holiday in Italy and resumed his role as a weekly columnist for the Telegraph, writing about the murder rate in London and Labour’s anti-Semitism row, as well as his now infamous burka article.

It apparently took him three weeks to move out of Carlton Gardens, the Grade I listed home off The Mall in London, which he enjoyed as foreign secretary. He is currently living in a farmhouse outside Thame, Oxfordshire, close to his old constituency of Henley-on-Thames.

Here, politicial commentators predict, he is biding his time for an even bigger job.

Over the coming months, Johnson “could be a grave threat to the prime minister from the backbenches, undermining her in the final months of negotiations with Brussels”, says the Financial Times’s Henry Mance. Former chancellor George Osborne “once described Johnson as being in a permanent leadership campaign”, Mance notes.

The Spectator’s Katy Balls agrees. The former foreign secretary’s decision not to eviscerate May in his resignation speech on 18 July “was as good a sign as any that he is serious about the top job”, she says.

In a marked reversal of fortunes, Johnson is now the top choice of nearly a third of Tory party members to be the next leader, according to the latest monthly survey of more than 1,000 Tories by the website ConservativeHome.

It is the first time that Johnson has topped the poll since 2016, shortly after he declared that he was backing Leave in the EU referendum.

And a YouGov poll last month found that 34% of voters believed Johnson would do a better job than May in Brexit negotiations. The same poll also found that, of all May’s rivals, only Johnson could lift public support for the Tories enough to put them level with Corbyn’s Labour.

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