Boris Johnson on track for victory and planning return to Commons

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The Independent Online

Boris Johnson plans to seek a return to the Commons at the 2015 general election, a move which could see him emerge as the front-runner to succeed David Cameron as Conservative Party leader. Mr Johnson's future prospects will receive a huge boost today if, as is expected, he sees off the challenge from Labour's Ken Livingstone and wins another term as Mayor of London.

Although Mr Johnson, pictured, has denied he will be a Tory candidate at the 2015 election, close allies believe he will do so rather than look for a chance to return to Westminster in a by-election. They insist he could serve as both an MP and London Mayor for 12 months before leaving City Hall in 2016 when his second term ends.

One senior Conservative told i yesterday: "He could not wear two hats for a long period but doing it for 12 months would not cause a great controversy. Tory associations in London and the Home Counties would queue up to have him as their candidate."

Tory MPs believe Mr Johnson would be in pole position to succeed Mr Cameron if he lost the 2015 election and resigned. One said: "Boris is seen on the Tory benches as a winner. He could be the only Tory to win an election since John Major in 1992. Cameron and Osborne didn't win in 2010. There is a growing view [among Tory MPs] that they don't really stand for anything. We know what Boris stands for – low tax, a Europe referendum, tough on law and order. He can communicate that and has charisma."

The final opinion poll of the London battle, by YouGov for the London Evening Standard, showed Mr Johnson on course for a 53-47 per cent win over Mr Livingstone. It found that two in 10 Labour supporters intend to reject Mr Livingstone, with half planning to switch to his Tory opponent.

The Conservatives hope that the pain of heavy losses in yesterday's local elections will be reduced by a Johnson victory. Similarly, their Labour counterparts are worried that the party's expected gains in English and Welsh councils will be overshadowed by its failure to land the London prize.