Tory ‘Red Wall’ MPs – including party’s deputy chair ’30p Lee’ Anderson – now ‘regret calling for Boris Johnson to quit as PM’ as Rishi Sunak fails to improve grim polls

Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson is among a group of ‘Red Wall’ MPs who now rue calling for Boris Johnson to quit as prime minister, it has been claimed.

According to The Times, Mr Anderson and serving ministers are among more than a dozen MPs who have privately expressed regret at joining efforts to oust Mr Johnson.

It comes amid claims that Mr Johnson could stage a stunning political comeback as part of a ‘dream ticket’ with ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

Fresh Tory leadership speculation has been prompted by widespread angst over Rishi Sunak’s efforts to revive the Rwanda migration plan.

The Prime Minister is facing a potential revolt from both the Tory Right and Tory moderates over new emergency legislation.

Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson is among a group of ‘Red Wall’ MPs who now rue calling for Boris Johnson to quit as prime minister, it has been claimed

It comes amid claims that Mr Johnson could stage a stunning political comeback as part of a ‘dream ticket’ with ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage

Mr Farage, who came third on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity, ruled out standing as a Tory candidate while Rishi Sunak is leader

A YouGov poll conducted on Wednesday and Thursday last week showed Labour continued to hold a 23-point lead over the Tories

In a bid to get around the Supreme Court’s block on his plans to send asylum seekers to Africa, Mr Sunak has unveiled new laws to try and escape future legal challenges.

But some on the Tory Right are fearful the legislation is not tough enough to ensure migrant flights finally take off.

And Tory moderates are concerned it may not comply with Britain’s obligations under international law.

The Rwanda Bill almost blew up in Mr Sunak’s face last week when Robert Jenrick quit as immigration minister due to his opposition to the legislation.

There is growing talk at Westminster of a leadership challenge against Mr Sunak, should he fail to get the Bill through Parliament.

There is also simmering concern on the Conservative backbenches that Mr Sunak has failed to cut Labour’s large poll lead in recent weeks.

This is despite tax cuts at the Autumn Statement and recent announcements on both illegal and legal migration controls. 

A YouGov poll conducted on Wednesday and Thursday last week showed Labour continued to hold a 23-point lead over the Tories.

The poll also showed Reform – the party that Mr Farage helped to found – was backed by 11 per cent of voters.

The Times has been given the names of more than a dozen MPs elected in 2019 who were among those to call for Mr Johnson to quit as PM in July last year but who now regret the decision.

One ‘Red Wall’ MP told the newspaper: ‘There are loads of Red Wall MPs who would jump at the chance to have Boris back as leader, even among those who called on him to quit.’

Mr Anderson, the MP for Ashfield, joined the large Tory rebellion against Mr Johnson in 2022 over the then-PM’s handling of the Chris Pincher scandal.

He and Mr Johnson are set to be colleagues again in the New Year when the ex-PM joins Mr Anderson in becoming a presenter on GB News.

Mr Farage, another GB News presenter who came third on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity, today ruled out standing as a Tory candidate while Mr Sunak is leader.

But, asked about the possibility of a pact with Mr Johnson, he said: ‘Never say never. I can’t predict right now what will happen.’

A spokesman for Mr Johnson would not be drawn on his political ambitions, but denied the existence of any plans to team up with Mr Farage.

He told the Daily Mail: ‘Boris Johnson is currently writing a book and is supporting the Government.’

MailOnline has contacted Mr Anderson for comment.

Lee Anderson’s history of controversies

Lee Anderson has been no stranger to controversy since entering the House of Commons in 2019.

Here are some of the rows the Ashfield MP has been caught up in…

Taking the knee

Ahead of the 2020 European Championships, Mr Anderson vowed to boycott England games during the football tournament due to the side’s decision to ‘take the knee’ before matches.

He said, by performing the anti-racism gesture which has become linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, the players were supporting a ‘political movement’ and risked alienating ‘traditional supporters’.

Mr Anderson watered down his boycott of England games when Gareth Southgate’s side reached the final.

He revealed he would allow himself to keep tabs on the score via his phone.

Food banks

Mr Anderson sparked fury last year after suggesting Britons are only using food banks because they ‘can’t budget’ and ‘can’t cook a meal from scratch’.

He also claimed there was not a ‘massive use for food banks’ in Britain.

Following criticism of his remarks, Mr Anderson offered ‘proof’ that meals can be cooked for 30p each. This saw him dubbed ’30p Lee’.

Support for the death penalty

Shortly after he was appointed Tory deputy chairman by Rishi Sunak this year, Mr Anderson faced a storm of criticism over his support for the return of the death penalty.

‘Nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed,’ Mr Anderson told the Spectator magazine.

‘You know that, don’t you? 100% success rate.’

Downing Street was forced to clarify that Mr Anderson does not speak for the Government in his party role.

Row with Game of Throne star’s dad

In April, Mr Anderson told the father of Game of Throne star Rose Leslie to ‘come outside’ in a bust-up in Parliament.

He was claimed to have been ‘aggressive’ towards Sebastian Leslie, whose daughter played Ygritte in the hit TV series, during a row in a House of Commons dining room.

The altercation was said to have been prompted by the explusion of North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen from the Conservative Party.

But Mr Anderson said it had been Mr Bridgen who was ‘rude and aggressive’ during the altercation.

MPs’ second jobs

In March, Mr Anderson was revealed to be earning £100,000 a year from his TV role with GB News – less than 18 months after he had blasted MPs who need ‘an extra £100,000 a year’ on top of their parliamentary salary.

In the wake of the Owen Paterson lobbying row, Mr Anderson had said: ‘If you need an extra £100,000 a year on top then you should really be looking for another job.’

He later signed up to GB News where he devotes eight hours a week to his role as a presenter and contributor.

The Commons sleaze watchdog recently launched a probe into Mr Anderson’s filming of a promo video for his weekly show from Parliament’s roof.

MPs are subject to strict rules over the taxpayer-funded services provided to them by the Commons in support of their parliamentary activities.

Eddie Izzard

Mr Anderson came under fire last October when he questioned whether female representation would ‘increase or decrease’ if Eddie Izzard was elected as an MP.

He claimed he ‘would not follow him into the toilets’ if Izzard, who identifies as a woman with she/her pronouns, came to Parliament.

At the time, Izzard was attempting to become Labour’s candidate in the Sheffield Central constituency.

Mr Anderson was accused of making ‘transphobic’ comments.

‘F*** off back to France’

In August, Mr Anderson told asylum seekers refusing to board the Bibby Stockholm barge they should ‘f*** off back to France’.

He delivered his blast after 20 people declined to get on the vessel in Portland Port, Dorset.

Lawyers claimed some had a ‘severe fear of water’ after traumatic experiences.

‘If they don’t like barges then they should f*** off back to France,’ an irate Mr Anderson said.

Despite outrage at the comments, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk supported Mr Anderson’s ‘salty’ indignation as ‘well placed’. 

Downing Street also backed Mr Anderson amid a furious row.

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