Boris and David are now best friends – but for how long?

Boris will be trustworthy as long as it is in his interests to be trustworthy

Share

Something disconcerting has happened inside the Tory party. Peace has broken out between Boris Johnson and David Cameron. The Prime Minister has welcomed the idea of the Mayor of London returning to the Commons in 2015, and has declared that the two of them “can make a very strong team”. Johnson has urged Tory activists to work “flat out” for victory in 2015, and has acclaimed Cameron as a “statesman”.

The British press cannot be expected to accept this outbreak of harmony without making determined efforts to destroy it. We thrive on rifts and rivalries. Johnson’s insatiable desire to lay his hands on Cameron’s job is a staple of our trade, and we are not going to give it up just because the two men now claim to be united in a common endeavour.

The question arises of whether Johnson’s protestations of loyalty can be trusted. As his biographer, my reply is that he will be trustworthy as long as it is in his interests to be trustworthy. This is not meant to sound disparaging. It describes the usual attitude of Tory MPs to their leaders. When Margaret Thatcher was judged to have become an electoral liability, they chucked her overboard, and they will do the same to Cameron when he is judged to have become a liability.

Johnson judges, as many Conservatives do, that things could be coming right for Cameron. The economy appears to be recovering, the welfare reforms are popular and Labour’s lead is soft. The Tories believe that by turning to the left, Ed Miliband has blundered. They reckon that as the general election approaches, Ukip voters will return to the Tories in order to avert the danger of Miliband becoming Prime Minister.

These assumptions may turn out to be mistaken. But for the time being, they have rendered Cameron’s position very much stronger. There is no vacancy in 10 Downing Street and Johnson knows he would do himself mortal damage if he were seen trying to create one. In Manchester, he has instead gone out of his way to demonstrate that he is a  team player.

The Tory general election campaign in 2010 was a dreadful mess. About four different people were in charge of it, or not in charge of it, and no clear message emerged. Johnson was scarcely deployed: I remember a joint appearance he made with Cameron at Chelsea Royal Hospital which became an amusing, but electorally futile, series of jokes by Johnson at his leader’s expense. Lynton Crosby, who imposed iron discipline on Johnson during his two successful mayoral contests, will be running the Tory campaign in 2015, and will not allow that sort of thing to happen again. As long as Cameron looks as if he is a winner, Johnson will be forced to remain loyal. The first big test of this conditional loyalty will probably come in next year’s European elections.

Andrew Gimson is a contributing editor to ConservativeHome and  the author of ‘Boris – the Rise of  Boris Johnson’

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Harman has said her gender affected her employment  

Gordon Brown could have had a woman as deputy PM. He bottled it

Joan Smith
Barclays are reducing the number of staff in their branches - and giving those remain ipads  

A bag? In the bagging area? Whatever next?

Andrew Martin
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?