It had been just 14 days since Boris Johnson announced his resignation but already the outgoing prime minister was “wargaming” ways to cling on to power.
On July 22 last year, he invited Lord Cruddas, the Tory peer, banker and former party treasurer, for lunch at Chequers.
A week earlier, Cruddas had launched a petition with the Conservative Post website demanding Johnson’s name be added to the ballot in the forthcoming leadership contest. By the time they met, it had 10,000 signatures.
The strategy was clearly at odds with the party rulebook — outgoing Tory leaders may not stand in contests to find their successor — but Johnson was thrilled by Cruddas’s initiative.
The petitions failed — twice — with Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak