BORIS Johnson would govern as a prime minister who had “learned” from the mistakes of his first time in office, his former chancellor of just two months has claimed.

Nadhim Zahawi, who served just two days in the prime minister’s ghost cabinet in the dying days of his premiership before calling on Johnson to step down, has claimed “Boris 2.0” would be honest and contrite should he once again seize the top job.

Announcing his support for his former boss, Zahawi said: “I’m backing Boris. He got the big calls right, whether it was ordering more vaccines ahead of more waves of Covid, arming [Ukraine] early against the advice of some, or stepping down for the sake of unity.

“But now, Britain needs him back. We need to unite to deliver on our manifesto.

“When I was chancellor, I saw a preview of what Boris 2.0 would look like. He was contrite and honest about his mistakes.

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“He’d learned from those mistakes how he could run No 10 and the country better.

“With a unified team behind him, he is the one to lead us to victory and prosperity.”

Zahawi was knocked out in the early stages of the Tory leadership race earlier this year and eventually backed Liz Truss to win.

It appears likely Johnson will run to become the PM again, with key ally Jacob Rees-Mogg telling the BBC he would "clearly" be officially entering the race.

Johnson’s camp have been briefing the press he has the backing of more than 100 MPs – necessary to secure entry to the next stage of the contest. This would mean around half of his supporters are unwilling to come out publicly in favour of a return for the ex-PM, who arrived back in Britain on Saturday following a holiday in the Caribbean.

Meanwhile, his rival for the job and former chancellor Rishi Sunak has the support of more than 130 MPs – approaching half of the parliamentary party.

The prospect of a General Election looms large for Tory MPs. Some believe that Johnson’s track record of a historic victory in the 2019 vote will save them from the electoral oblivion forecast by some recent polls.

But others have threatened to quit the party should the former prime minster return to No 10.

Johnson remains a deeply divisive figure after the collapse of his government earlier this year, which eventually gave way under the weight of numerous scandals, culminating in the promotion of Chris Pincher – who stood down as a party whip after he was accused of groping a man in a private members’ club.

He denies the accusations. But it later emerged Johnson had been aware of similar claims against Pincher before promoting him to the whips’ office.