Boris Johnson burnishes leadership credentials with tough talk on EU

 

Boris Johnson has intensified pressure on David Cameron over Europe as he prepared to launch his bid to return to Westminster at next year’s general election.

The Mayor of London insisted it would be “easy” for the Prime Minister to live up to his promise of winning back substantial powers from Brussels to Britain.

He rejected claims that Mr Cameron had been too ambitious by promising to achieve widespread reform in the EU by 2017.

“I’m not so pessimistic,” Mr Johnson told the London Evening Standard. “There is no reason why an IGC [inter-governmental conference] to settle all those points shouldn’t be done in that space of time. I think it could be done.”

Mr Johnson, who this week burnished his Eurosceptic credentials by arguing Britain could prosper outside the EU, will be accused of making Mr Cameron’s task in even more challenging by setting the bar for success in the talks impossibly high.

His comments came the day after he put an end to years of speculation, when he announced his ambition to return to Parliament in 2015.

Nominations to become the Tory candidate in the safe seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip will open tomorrow, with Mr Johnson looking highly likely to throw his hat in the ring

He has been strongly linked with the seat in the past and is on the approved list of Conservative candidates for the role.

Mr Johnson has also spoken to Sir John Randall, who will retire as the constituency’s MP at the election.

David Mowat, Tory MP for Warrington South, said the party should not get ahead of themselves by assuming that having Mr Johnson as leader would solve all their problems.

“I don’t think he’s a panacea, charisma and all,” Mr Mowat told the BBC’s The World Tonight. “I think there’s a danger that we’d get into a Third World country mentality that what you need is a brand new leader and suddenly everything will be fine. “

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