Boris Johnson had backing to challenge Rishi Sunak, Sir Graham Brady confirms – BBC

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"It's pretty bad, isn't it?" – Sir Graham Brady on meeting before Liz Truss resigned as PM
Boris Johnson had signed up enough MPs to mount a challenge to Rishi Sunak for the Conservative leadership, senior Tory Sir Graham Brady has confirmed.
Mr Johnson dramatically pulled out of the race amid speculation he did not have the 100 nominations needed.
But Sir Graham, who runs Tory leadership contests, said Mr Johnson had just decided not to stand.
He also spoke for the first time about his meeting with Liz Truss when she realised she could not go on as PM.
He said the chat was "the easiest and most straightforward" of the three similar conversations he has held with Conservative leaders facing the end of their time in power "because she had come to the same conclusion" as him.
As chairman of the powerful 1922 backbench committee, it falls to Sir Graham to deliver the bad news to Tory leaders clinging to power that they no longer command the support of their MPs.
In an interview with BBC North West Tonight, Sir Graham said he had decided to call Downing Street to tell Ms Truss her position was "unsustainable," following "utter chaos" during one of the final Commons votes of her administration.
Confusion over whether the vote on fracking was a confidence vote in her came amid crumbling support for her doomed premiership from Tory MPs.
"I was reaching for my phone when I got a message saying the prime minister had asked to see me," the Altrincham and Sale West MP told the programme.
"When I went in to see her with her chief of staff Mark Fullbrook, she asked me the question – she said 'it's pretty bad, isn't it?' To which I replied 'yes, it is pretty bad'".
"She asked the second question, 'do you think it's retrievable?'. And I said 'no, I don't think it is'. And she replied that she didn't either."
By contrast, he recalled a meeting with Mr Johnson the night before he announced his resignation in July this year, when he was "still determined to go on".
"He [Mr Johnson] mulled it over after that, and he called me early the next morning to say that he'd changed his mind."
Mr Johnson was forced to resign after a mass walkout of ministers, including his former chancellor Mr Sunak, following a string of scandals.
He tried to make a sensational comeback after Ms Truss resigned, attempting to muster the 100 nominations from Tory MPs required to make it through to an online ballot of party members.
But after flying back from a Caribbean holiday, he dramatically announced he would not be standing, even though he had 102 backers, including a proposer and a seconder.
In a statement, he said putting himself forward would not be "the right thing to do" for party unity.
His decision to pull out meant Mr Sunak became Tory leader automatically as the only MP to make it to the ballot stage.
The announcement was greeted with some scepticism within Westminster, given only around half that number had gone public with their support for Mr Johnson.
But Sir Graham said "two candidates" had reached the threshold, and "one of them decided not to then submit his nomination".
Elsewhere in his interview, Sir Graham insisted the committee had wanted to involve party members in the leadership race, despite setting a "very high" nomination threshold to speed up the contest.
"We thought it was in the national interest to get a result as quickly as possible – but wanted to make sure we weren't closing that possibility that the members would also have a vote," he said.
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