Is David Cameron calling Boris’s bluff?
PM urges Boris Johnson to stand for Parliament at the 2015 general election
ALLIES of David Cameron are encouraging Boris Johnson to stand as a Conservative candidate at the next general election – to settle once and for all speculation over whether he plans to challenge the prime minister for the party leadership.
Chancellor George Osborne personally delivered a message to the mayor of London that he should go “all out” for a Cameron victory in 2015, says The Times.
The move is being seen as an attempt to call Johnson’s bluff. He is widely suspected of running a discreet lobbying bid to strengthen his support among Conservative MPs ahead of a potential leadership bid.
With a number of Tory MPs determined to spark a leadership challenge to Cameron if he fails to secure an overall majority in 2015, the prime minister’s loyalists are anxious to protect him from a Johnson bid. The mayor is more popular among Tory activists than any other potential leadership candidate.
Were Johnson to agree to stand for parliament in 2015, the move would bring the additional advantage of adding his considerable charisma to the campaign trail. He is seen as one of the few Conservative figures with the ability to appeal beyond the Tory heartlands.
Publicly, Johnson has refused to confirm he has leadership aspirations. An aide described the suggestion he is running a behind-the-scenes campaign as “poppycock”. Johnson himself also denied at a Westminster lunch in December that he would stand at the 2015 poll.
However, many remain unconvinced by his public statements about his intentions. The message of this latest move seems to be to tell the mop-haired mayor: “Put your money where your mouth is.”