Boris Johnson said his career is now like a booster rocket “that has fulfilled its function and I will now be gently re-entering the atmosphere and splashing down invisibly in some remote and obscure corner of the Pacific”. He declared “like Cincinnatus, I am returning to my plough” – a reference to ancient Roman statesman Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus. But Ms Widdecombe warned against MPs planning to encourage Mr Johnson to return.
Speaking on the Jeremy Vine show, she said: “You talk about Boris Johnson wanting to come back and everyone’s been speculating on this.
“I think it is far more likely at the moment as there is a group of people particularly in the parliamentary party who think he should never have gone and resent the fact that he has gone.
“They would very foolishly in my view like to see him back.
“I think his behind is the advice they should take, get behind the new leader.
READ MORE: Liz Truss faces instant Brexit crisis unable to fill key cabinet role
“One of the things that I think is most important and obviously from the country’s point of view, who is going to be Chancellor and who is going to be Home Secretary.
“But if the Conservative party wants to win the next general election, the single most important role is to be the chief whip.
“Quite honestly the Conservative parliamentary party is fractious, panic-prone. It is completely divided and it will endanger what could be a successful future.”
Before entering No 10, an ambitious Mr Johnson had frequently said he would serve as prime minister if he was “called from my plough” like the Roman.
He added that if Dilyn, the Johnsons’ dog, and Larry, the No 10 cat, “can put behind them their occasional difficulties, then so can the Conservative Party”.
Mr Johnson left Downing Street to head to Balmoral to formally resign, with Ms Truss expected to have her own meeting with the monarch shortly afterwards to take over the position of prime minister.
As well as her speech in Downing Street, she will begin putting in place her team of ministers, with key allies and supporters already pencilled in for some of the most senior roles, including Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who is widely expected to be given the crucial role of chancellor.
Ms Truss’s first major policy priority will be delivering a package of support for households struggling with energy bills which are set to soar even higher next month.