Two 'plots' to oust Cameron in favour of Boris revealed
Zac Goldsmith offers London mayor a way back into Commons as ‘stalking horse’ bid exposed
TWO SUPPOSED plots to oust David Cameron as Conservative leader have been alleged in the papers today: one involving London mayor Boris Johnson and the other an obscure backbench MP.
The Mail on Sunday reports that Johnson was approached by Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith. The multi-millionaire Tory environmentalist is upset with Cameron over his apparent moves to ditch Conservative opposition to a third runway at Heathrow.
Goldsmith has already threatened to resign his constituency, which lies under a Heathrow flight-path, if Cameron makes a U-turn on expansion of the airport.
In talks with Johnson this week, Goldsmith is said to have encouraged the mayor to stand in the by-election. If he became an MP, Johnson would be in a position to challenge Cameron for the leadership of the Conservative party. A Tory MP told the Mail: “The moment Boris next enters the Commons Chamber the only question will be not whether, but when, he makes a leadership bid.”
However, Johnson is said by “official sources” to have rejected Goldsmith’s proposal out of hand.
Goldsmith yesterday admitted to meeting Boris this week to “compare notes on Heathrow” and see “what we could do to kill off the third runway”.
He added: “We covered all sorts of possibilities. I would do anything I need to deliver to my constituents what I said I would.”
But a spokesman for the London mayor told The Guardian: "It's no surprise that the mayor has met and will continue to meet those who share his concerns over the lack of aviation capacity in London and the South-East.
"But the story in question is without doubt fanciful."
The other, completely unrelated, plot against the PM, according to the Mail, was proposed by two Conservative MPs apparently on behalf of a “mystery senior Tory”. The MPs approached their colleague Colonel Bob Stewart, who is known to be a fan of Boris. They urged him to stand as a ‘stalking horse’ candidate against Cameron.
Stewart said of the plot: "It was a silly suggestion that I dismissed. I told them to get lost."