Is Boris Johnson set to switch to a safe Norfolk seat?
PUBLISHED: 10:51 31 October 2019 | UPDATED: 08:42 01 November 2019
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Rumours Boris Johnson could swoop into a safer seat in Norfolk have not been ruled out by Conservative sources.
The focus appears to be on the Broadland constituency where Keith Simpson is standing aside and currently commands a healthy majority of 15,816.
Broadland is yet to declare who will stand on the Tory ticket with hustings set for next week. And although Downing Street has described the rumours as "tosh and nonsense" a Tory source said "anything could happen - it would not be a massive shock".
Mr Johnson faces a battle in his current constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip in west London where his 10,000 majority was cut in half at the 2017 election.
He has been asked on several occasions in the House of Commons whether he would stand again in that constituency but has dodged the question.
The Tory source added: "Stranger things have happened than Boris switching to a nice safe seat like Broadland. It could happen. My view is it probably won't but I would not rule it out. It is not too far from Westminster either.
"Whoever gets it - whether it is the prime minister or not - it is a great seat."
The last Tory leader to lose his seat was Arthur Balfour in 1906, who had resigned as prime minister a year earlier. If Mr Johnson was beaten it would cause a crisis at the top of government. But if his party had won a majority he could continue as prime minister if he appointed himself a Lord. The last prime minister to lead the nation from the Lords was the Marquess of Salisbury who quit in 1902.
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Meanwhile outgoing Broadland MP Keith Simpson has taken to Twitter to attack Mr Johnson over the resignation of a number of moderate Conservatives. He said: "So many good colleagues from One Nation standing down with Liders, Sir Patrick, Alan Duncan and now Nicky Morgan. Boris may get back some Brexiteer Tory and Labour voters but he is losing the Liberal Consevatives. How not to get a majority."