The former foreign secretary has indicated that if the UK participated in the EU elections at the end of May, he will not campaign. The news comes after Chancellor Philip Hammond said taking part in the elections would be “pointless”. But not all Tory leadership hopefuls agree with the protest, with health secretary Matt Hancock and environment secretary Michael Gove saying they would campaign for Tory candidates.
A source close to Mr Johnson, 54, told The Times he would not back the EU elections.
They said: “Boris won’t campaign in European elections.
“He believes the prospect of the UK fielding candidates is utterly preposterous.”
On Friday, Mr Hammond, 63, said that fighting the elections, where Britain holds 73 of 751 seats, would be “a pointless exercise”.
He told the BBC: “Clearly nobody wants to fight the European elections.
“It feels like a pointless exercise and the only way we can avoid that is by getting a deal agreed and done quickly, and if we can do that by 22 May, we can avoid fighting the European parliamentary elections.”
The Tories are not set to do well if the elections do go ahead.
A recent YouGov survey of 1,843 British adults from April 10 to 11 revealed just over a third of those who backed the Tories in the last election said they would vote for the party in the European polls, putting the Tory vote at just 16 per cent.
Pro-Brexit parties only narrowly trailed, with Nigel Farage’s newly formed Brexit Party predicted to win 15 per cent of the vote and UKIP 14 per cent.
But there is a chance Britain will not participate in the EU vote, if a withdrawal agreement is agreed and the UK leaves the bloc before the elections are held.
This is what Mr Gove, 51, hopes will happen.
An ally of the environment secretary said: “He is doing all he can to secure a deal so we don’t need to have them but should they occur he will be campaigning energetically and enthusiastically for Conservative candidates.”
Similarly, a source close to Mr Hancock, 40, said: “There’s nothing Matt enjoys more than getting out on the doorstep and supporting his Conservative colleagues.
“He’s always been an enthusiastic and energetic campaign for the Conservative Party and there is no reason why that would change.”
Mr Johnson’s plan to snub the EU election comes just days after his father, Stanley Johnson, revealed he intends to stand as a Tory candidate in the upcoming vote.
The veteran Tory made the revelation on LBS radio on Wednesday, saying “I’ve thrown my hat in the ring”.