Two senior North East Tories have thrown their support behind former PM Boris Johnson make a shock return to office after Liz Truss announced her resignation yesterday.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland MP Simon Clarke have joined together to back Boris to become the next Tory leader.

In the statement, the pair said 'people on Teesside love Boris' and claimed Downing Street under his leadership would be 'disciplined', adding: "We back Boris because when the chips are down, he gets the big decisions right".

In a joint statement to the Telegraph they said: “Boris is the person we need to lead our country and our party.

Read more: North East Tories welcome Liz Truss' resignation as they slam 'fiasco' & 'mess'

“He won the greatest election victory for years on a mandate to unite and level up the UK, and inspired millions of people who had never voted Conservative before to get behind a generous, optimistic vision of what Britain can be. 

The Northern Echo: Simon Clarke, Boris Johnson and Ben HouchenSimon Clarke, Boris Johnson and Ben Houchen (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

“People on Teesside love Boris because he recognised that while talent is evenly distributed across the country, opportunity is not. Boris gave us that opportunity. People who have felt left behind from Governments of both colours want their Prime Minister to make a success of Brexit, control illegal immigration and invest in our communities.  That’s what Boris would do and it’s why he is so popular right across the Red Wall seats that will decide the next election.

“This is an immensely serious moment both at home and abroad.  We back Boris because when the chips are down, he gets the big decisions right.  From lifting the Covid restrictions faster than anywhere else to defending Ukraine, he is a leader for the moments that count. 

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“Boris would lead a broad-based, inclusive Government drawing on talent from right across the Conservative Party, driven by a disciplined Downing Street. Teesside has had difficult times and is now levelling up because of Boris. We know that for us, like Boris, the comeback will be greater than the setback.”

The Northern Echo: Simon Clarke, Boris Johnson and Ben Houchen.Simon Clarke, Boris Johnson and Ben Houchen. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Asked about the scandals that engulfed Mr Johnson during his premiership, Mr Houchen said: "Boris has his flaws, everyone knows that and knows what they are. That is endearing to some people and it turns other people off.

"I, though, am entirely parochial about the issue, and I look at what he has done for Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.

"I speak to nurses, construction workers and people trying to get on and they absolutely recognise what he has got wrong but that his priorities mean he is the best for this job. 

"In an ideal world, my dream ticket would be Boris as PM and Rishi as his Chancellor."


Johnson is yet to formally throw his hat into the ring but is rumoured to be considering a bid.

Yesterday (October 20) Hartlepool MP Jill Mortimer announced she would also be backing Johnson.

It comes after beleaguered PM Truss quit after just 44 days in office to become the shortest serving Prime Minister in British history.

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Truss’s resignation has triggered a sped-up Tory leadership contest, with a new Prime Minister set to take up office next week – possibly as soon as Monday (October 24).

Richmond MP Rishi Sunak and Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt are also both expected to make the bid for leader.

Mr Johnson quit as party leader following widespread resignations from his Government over the Chris Pincher scandal regarding allegations of sexual misconduct by the former Conservative Deputy Chief Whip.

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However, divisions between North East Conservatives have already started to form as some of the region’s MPs announced they’d be backing Rishi Sunak if he stands for leader.

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday morning “the key problems we have facing us today are economic” and Mr Sunak should be trusted “because he understands the economy so well”.

He added: “The whole country is crying out for some stability and I think that’s what Rishi can bring – that calm, competence in everything he does.

“He has been tested in the second highest office of state as chancellor and I think he will bring the same calm competence to the job as prime minister.”

Meanwhile North West Durham MP Richard Holden and Hexham MP Guy Opperman have also both come out in support of Sunak.

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