Boris Johnson will sit down for talks with Hillary Clinton this week during a six-day US tour seen by some as preparation for a future Conservative leadership bid.
The Mayor of London’s meeting with the former US Secretary of State, the Democrat frontrunner to be the next President, is his highest profile yet in a busy few months of building relationships with international power brokers.
On Sunday night Mr Johnson told The Independent he was “reconciled” to people reading whatever they wanted into his foreign visits but claimed his primary aim was to promote London rather than himself.
The Mayor, who has been eager to demonstrate a more statesmanlike image before the general election, also hopes to visit Japan, Israel and Turkey before the end of his mayoralty in 2016, although this could be difficult to combine with a cabinet post.
He has been selected as Tory candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in the general election, and is expected to be fast-tracked to the front bench.
His aides denied the US trip was deliberately timed to generate maximum coverage just a few months before the general election, claiming it had been years in the planning.
The first part of the tour – which begins in Boston before heading to New York and Washington – could be hit by bad weather. The Boston authorities are advising people to stay at home because of the threat of a severe snow storm.
Last month Mr Johnson flew to meet the Kurdish Prime Minister. He was pictured taking aim with an AK47 alongside Peshmerga soldiers fighting against Isis. Critics in the London Assembly claim he has “mentally checked out” of his mayoral role.
Evening Standard Top 20 Most Influential Londoners
Evening Standard Top 20 Most Influential Londoners
1/19 1. George Osborne
Chancellor of the Exchequer
2/19 2. Boris Johnson
Mayor of London
3/19 3. Demis Hassabis
Deep Mind Technologies founder
4/19 4. Amal Clooney
5/19 5. Mark Carney
Bank of England Governor
6/19 6. Theresa May
7/19 7. Prince Harry
Bless ‘im. Prince Harry is known to the public as the shaggy-haired brother of Prince William - you know, the one who had that wedding that got everybody a day off. Much has been made of Harry’s military career, having served in the British Army and fought in Afghanistan. Indeed, as far as elite institutions go, Harry began his training at Sandhurst, the UK’s premier officer training school. In purely academic terms, however, Harry isn’t much to speak of - gaining only two A-levels, despite his private schooling and privileged background.
This is in stark contrast to his brother; William studied at St. Andrews, taking a course in Art History and graduating with an MA. However, a friend of mine once described taking art history as taking a “course in being unemployed forever,” so maybe they’re not so different. It’s not like it matters what degree you study for when you’re steps away from the throne anyway.
8/19 8. Sir Paul Nurse
Francis Crick Institute chief executive and Nobel Prize-winning geneticist
9/19 10. David Cameron
10/19 11. Sir Peter Hendy
11/19 12. Malala Yousafzai
Nobel Peace Prize winner
12/19 13. Ed Miliband
13/19 14. Nicholas Serota
14/19 15. Andre Balazs
Chiltern Firehouse restaurateur and hotelier
15/19 16. Kate Bush
16/19 17. José Mourinho
17/19 18. Stephen Hawking
18/19 19. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe
Metropolitan Police Commissioner
19/19 20. Benedict Cumberbatch
At the end of last year Mr Johnson spent six days in the Far East, visiting Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Singapore to meet heads of state, in addition to drumming up business for London. He has already travelled to India, China and the Gulf on official business.
The talks in New York on Wednesday will be the first time Mr Johnson has met Senator Clinton, although he has previously been introduced to her husband, former US President Bill Clinton, as well as to President Obama.
City Hall sources said the pair would discuss the war in Syria and Iraq and the threat posed by Isis to both the region and Western cities. The conversation is almost certain to touch on the general election in May and the US presidential race next year.
Mr Johnson, who was born in New York and has dual citizenship, hopes he could meet Ms Clinton in future as PM. He also met Republican presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush and Chris Christie when they visited the UK recently.
The talks with Ms Clinton were confirmed as the Mayor flew into Boston – and a severe snowstorm – last night on the first day of his whistlestop tour.
Mr Johnson will visit MIT and Harvard in Boston, hold talks with Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York in Manhattan and then go on to attend a Congressional reception being held in Washington, DC.
There will be no shortage of picture opportunities as he meets business tycoons, top scientists, figures from the worlds of theatre and fashion and New York City’s police chief “supercop” Bill Bratton.
Mr Johnson will also visit the Smithsonian museum in Washington, which is considering an outpost in London.
His face will crop up on a host of American television networks – including CNN and MSNBC – as well as in major newspapers and at a reception hosted by the British Ambassador in Washington.Reuse content