Boris Johnson: How a political hero became 'absolutely toxic', says Bromley MP Bob Neill

Boris Johnson's political career turned toxic after an "extraordinary transformation" from his years as London mayor.

Bromley and Chislehurst MP Bob Neill said Mr Johnson was seen as "a hero" in London but his political image has since nosedived.

Mr Neill, who is Chair of the Justice Select Committee, said the party needed to rebuild trust and work out a set of policies relevant to Londoners.

"Sadly we've seen this extraordinary transformation where Boris - who was a hero in London when he was mayor - has sadly become absolutely toxic even in suburban areas of London and I found that on the doorsteps at elections in May," Mr Neill told ITV News. "Too often we're giving the impression that we're taking London for granted," he added.

Mr Neill said the PM's departure was "better late then never" after he lost the confidence of a majority of Tory MPs adding: "You don't like to see anyone's career end in this rather ignominious fashion.

"He's made it worse, by the way he's behaved in the last few days, and he had achievements in relation to the vaccine rollout and Ukraine, which he can be proud of.

"But at the end of the day, character issues that got in the way and it was right that he went."

Bob Neill celebrates winning the Bromley and Chislehurst by-election in 2006

The former minster said Boris Johnson should be replaced quickly and not drag the process out for the next three months.

"I think now the Conservative Party can't afford to have a three month transitional period," Mr Neill said.

"That's not in the interests of the country. A short transition I would prefer with Boris going completely and perhaps Dominic Raab or another senior minister acting as the interim prime minister would be better," he explained.

The Prime Minister intends to remain in office until his successor is elected, a process which could take months, prompting a backlash from party grandees and political opponents over his attempt to “cling on” in No 10 until the autumn. He assembled a new-look Cabinet to replace the ministers who quit or were sacked since the political bloodbath began on Tuesday. While the Prime Minister was intent on showing he was still in charge – even if only temporarily – his potential successors began setting out their stalls. In an unapologetic resignation statement, Mr Johnson said he had fought to stay on because of a sense of "duty" to the "millions of people who voted for us" in 2019 when he won a landslide election victory. "I have tried to persuade my colleagues that it would be eccentric to change governments when we are delivering so much and when we have such a vast mandate and when we are actually only a handful of points behind in the polls," he said. But "I regret not to have been successful in those arguments and of course it is painful not to be able to see through so many ideas and projects myself".

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