Does Boris’s decision to stand as an MP threaten Cameron? Not really

The 2015 election was an opportunity the London Mayor was bound to take

Share

Boris Johnson’s confirmation this morning that he is to stand as a Tory MP at the next election must, despite his repeated denials over the years, be one of the least unexpected or remarkable political announcements in political times.

Put it this way: What good reason would the manically ambitious, Machiavellian, potential Tory leader have not to stand for Parliament?

But despite what some people will say, Johnson’s decision is not really a threat to David Cameron, who sanctioned and even encouraged the plan at a private meeting earlier this year.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson intends to stand as MP in 2015 general election

The reason is this: If Boris is to have any hope of succeeding Mr Cameron he will need to be seen to be a loyal and active Conservative campaigner in the run-up to 2015. If he isn’t and the Tories lose, he would be blamed by the Conservative Parliamentary party and never even make it to the ballot of the wider party membership.

So Mr Cameron gets Boris inside the Tory tent and singing to a hymn sheet set by Lynton Crosby who masterminded the latter’s successful campaign to become Mayor of London.

And if Mr Cameron does defy electoral odds and wins an overall majority at the next election there simply won’t be a vacancy for the top job. Mr Cameron would be free to appoint the Mayor to whatever Cabinet post he thinks will do most damage to his personal credibility and neutralise him as a leadership threat in the future.

If the Tories win in 2015, then look forward to Boris Johnson the Health Secretary – or perhaps even Local Government Secretary if Cameron’s feeling particularly cruel.

And if the Tories lose? Well in that case the pressure for Mr Cameron to resign will be overwhelming regardless of whether Mr Johnson is an MP or not.

The Prime Minister will quickly fall on his sword, take to the international lecture circuit and probably care little whether it’s Boris, Theresa May or some other unfortunate who has to lead the party for five more years in the wilderness.

If there is another hung Parliament, life gets a little more complicated – but not complicated enough for Mr Cameron to block a Boris return.

One final point is worth making: Johnson has led a charmed political life so far but has skeletons in his cupboard that might not survive the scrutiny or the publicity of a Tory leadership campaign.

Boris has a rather poor record of marital fidelity, was once sacked from a job as a journalist for making up quotes, and also once discussed (he has since said, jokingly) the prospective beating up a journalist by a friend who was later convicted of fraud. Would the Tory shires really want a leader, no matter how telegenic and charismatic, with such a record?

 

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko prior to the start of the European Council Summit in Brussels last month  

David Cameron talks big but is waving a small stick at the Russian bear

Kim Sengupta
 

Isis in Iraq: Even if Iraqi troops take back Saddam’s city of Tikrit they will face bombs and booby traps

Patrick Cockburn
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003