'He'll be back': Voters in Boris Johnson's constituency predict return to politics

Former UK prime minister was not visible and did not care too much about local businesses, voters say

Boris Johnson represented the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency from 2015 to 2023. AP
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Boris Johnson was a name on the lips of many voters in Uxbridge on Monday morning as shops opened, people headed to work and news that the local MP would not be returning began to sink in.

The National visited the north-west London constituency of Uxbridge and Ruislip to speak to locals about their feelings on the former prime minister and Conservative Party leader’s sudden resignation.

While the announcement left many people in the area shocked, both critics and supporters of Mr Johnson were united in their view that this will not be the end of him in frontline politics.

‘Johnson is being stabbed in the back’

Among those who voiced backing for Mr Johnson was Michael Barfield. He said he hoped to see the day when the rambunctious blonde MP returns to politics to put Britain on the world stage like he did in his previous roles.

“Boris was a bit of a buffoon but he ran London better than any other mayor and he was a good prime minister,” he said.

“I liked him because he would always tell it like it is.”

Mr Barfield touched on the growing division between Mr Johnson and his former chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

“He is being stabbed in the back by his own party and he is being picked on,” he said.

“Johnson and Sunak were a good double act as prime minister and chancellor. They should have carried on like that.

“It’s a stich-up, without a shadow of a doubt.”

He chose his moment

Patrick Von-Mahoney said subjecting the former prime minister to a parliamentary investigation to determine whether he lied to parliament over lockdown parties in Downing Street was a step too far.

“He should have got a rap on the knuckles and they should have left it at that,” the former council worker said.

“He was not the only person involved [in the parties]. Similar things happened with Labour MPs and people didn’t make such a big deal of it.”

Mr Von-Mahoney predicted Mr Johnson will use his time away from politics to plot his grand return.

But he said he will probably choose a more Tory-leaning constituency next time, if the party lets him.

“When I would be selling poppies [for Remembrance Day], Boris would always come and say hello. He was a nice person,” he recalled.

“He chose his moment to resign.

“He may seek re-election somewhere else if the Conservative Party let him.”

A war of words between Mr Sunak and his former boss erupted on Monday following Mr Johnson’s angry statement of resignation on Friday evening.

Mr Johnson accused the Prime Minister of “talking rubbish” after Mr Sunak claimed his ex-boss had asked him to overrule the vetting committee to push through his House of Lords nominations.

Mr Sunak said his one-time ally had asked him to “do something I wasn’t prepared to do”.

“I didn’t think it was right and if people don’t like that, then tough,” Mr Sunak said on Monday in his first comments since Mr Johnson resigned.

The bitter dispute began to play out in public after Downing Street on Friday published Mr Johnson’s resignation honours list, lacking the names of sitting MPs including Sir Alok Sharma, who was Cop26 president, and former minister Nigel Adams.

Hours later, Mr Johnson announced that he would stand down as an MP as the Privileges Committee investigating whether he lied to parliament over partygate prepared to find that he had broken the rules and recommend a suspension which could trigger a by-election in his constituency.

By vacating his seat, Mr Johnson automatically triggered a by-election.

Manjit Panesar and Christine Rodriguez, who run Hillingdon Artists’ pop-up gallery in Uxbridge town centre, did not mince their words.

“I am not a big fan of Boris and I’m quite glad he is gone to be honest. He has told fibs,” Ms Panesar said as she sorted artwork in her store.

“He was like [former US president Donald] Trump in the way that he was good at promoting himself.”

Ms Rodriguez recalled bumping into Mr Johnson in the Hillingdon library a few years ago and said she would look back on his time in office as a stint in which he failed to deliver on promises to support the community.

“This is a safe seat for the Tories. Boris does not live locally and he just took up a lot of news and airtime,” she said.

“There are a lot of businesses in Uxbridge that have closed and the town needs help.”

'He made no impact on Uxbridge'

Her dismay over the legacy Mr Johnson leaves behind was echoed by Danny, who works at Reggie’s Butchers.

Looking back on his eight years as the local MP, Danny said he could not recall ever seeing Mr Johnson visiting local businesses to listen to their concerns.

“He has never done anything for Uxbridge and he made no impact. If he would have called in to us it would have been acknowledgement of local small businesses,” he said as he chopped meat behind the counter.

The lack of visibility from his local MP meant his distrust in politicians was galvanised and his aversion to voting continued to stick.

“I have never voted and I never will. Politicians lie to us. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t get elected.”

Nevertheless, he suggested Mr Johnson could reappear in politics sometime in the future.

“Rishi Sunak does not seem to be doing anything better than Boris,” he said.

Updated: June 12, 2023, 4:22 PM