Boris Johnson’s allies have denied claims of a bust-up with the Conservative Party leadership after reports emerged claiming he had been the victim of a campaign by Chancellor George Osborne to “destabilise” his ongoing popularity.
Suggestions of a rift between the London mayor and the “Osborne and [David] Cameron” camp began spreading yesterday after a report in The Times said the Chancellor had personally urged Mr Johnson to fight for the party in the 2015 general election.
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, one supporter of the mayor called it a deliberate attempt to tarnish his reputation and thwart any future plans to run for Prime Minister as an alternative to the current Conservative leadership.
“This is nothing to do with party loyalty and everything to do with Osborne and Cameron trying to destabilise Boris,” the source said.
“He saw it coming a mile off. They want to make sure that if the Tories lose, Boris gets as much flak as they do and can't stand as leader as a 'break with the failed Cameron-Osborne regime'.”
Last night a friend of the mayor insisted any conversations he had with Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne were to do with the 2015 campaign rather than his own role in the party.
“Boris' focus is on London - it was in 2012, when he stood for a second term, it will be in 2016 when he finishes that term,” he said.
“In between only two things matter to Boris - delivering for London, and ensuring we have a majority Conservative government led by David Cameron after 2015. Boris will be out and about doing all he can to make sure that happens.”
Speaking today on BBC 1’s Andrew Marr Show, the Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps also denied the existence of a feud, saying that Mr Johnson is “a fantastic London mayor and he's got a lot to offer”.
“What Boris does is up to Boris,” Mr Shapps said. “He's doing a brilliant job in London, his term runs to 2016, so he's got a little way to go.”
Mr Shapps said it would be “crazy” for the Mayor not to be involved in the general election campaign because he is “a guy who is able to communicate incredibly well”.