Could Boris become an MP and remain Mayor?

There is nothing to stop the Mayor also serving as an MP from 2015.

The juxtaposition of Boris Johnson's success with the Conservatives' failure means that the Mayor of London's stock is higher than ever. He is hailed by the right as proof that Tories can win (even in a Labour city like London) when they offer a distinctive, populist brand of conservatism. Boris's re-election will gift him the largest personal mandate of any European politician, bar the French president.

In their columns today, both Fraser Nelson, the editor of the Spectator, and Tim Montgomerie (£), the editor of ConservativeHome (whom I recently profiled for the NS), write of Boris as a Tory king across the water.

Montgomerie notes:

Just three months ago it was almost fanciful to imagine Boris as a future leader. The chance is still small. But he is the one senior Conservative who simultaneously appeals to core Tory voters and to a large proportion of Labour supporters.

The ruthlessness of the Conservative Party should never be underestimated. They got rid of Margaret Thatcher when MPs concluded that she was a loser. Mr Cameron has enormous skills but he must recognise the seriousness of the situation and the need to respond. Either he finds an election game-changer or the party might very reluctantly reach for the blond-coloured nuclear button.

So, could Boris become an MP in 2015 and stay on as mayor until 2016 (when his second term expires)? There is no constitutional obstacle to him doing so. Indeed, there is a precedent. After the 2000 mayoral election, Ken Livingstone remained the MP for Brent East until 2001.

One senior Conservative tells today's Independent:

He could not wear two hats for a long period but doing it for 12 months would not cause a great controversy. Tory associations in London and the Home Counties would queue up to have him as their candidate. He would say he was representing London in Parliament for a year.

Fraser Nelson names Crispin Blunt and Patrick Mercer as two MPs who would happily make way for Boris.

The Mayor has never publicly ruled out becoming an MP while remaining Mayor of London. When questioned on the subject by Prospect magazine, he "declined to comment but gave a low laugh." Should he return to parliament in 2015, it is no longer unthinkable that he could assume the reins of power midway through the second term of a Conservative-led government (Cameron has said he doesn't want to fight more than two elections) or the first term of a Conservative opposition.

Boris is that increasingly rare beast: a Tory who can win elections. As they mourn the loss of hundreds of Conservative councillors and reflect on the party's disastrous failure to win a majority in 2010, Cameron's MPs won't forget that.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson and his wife Marina Johnson arrive to cast their votes in the election. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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A swimming pool and a bleeding toe put my medical competency in doubt

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Sometimes the search engine wins. 

The brutal heatwave affecting southern Europe this summer has become known among locals as “Lucifer”. Having just returned from Italy, I fully understand the nickname. An early excursion caused the beginnings of sunstroke, so we abandoned plans to explore the cultural heritage of the Amalfi region and strayed no further than five metres from the hotel pool for the rest of the week.

The children were delighted, particularly my 12-year-old stepdaughter, Gracie, who proceeded to spend hours at a time playing in the water. Towelling herself after one long session, she noticed something odd.

“What’s happened there?” she asked, holding her foot aloft in front of my face.

I inspected the proffered appendage: on the underside of her big toe was an oblong area of glistening red flesh that looked like a chunk of raw steak.

“Did you injure it?”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t hurt at all.”

I shrugged and said she must have grazed it. She wasn’t convinced, pointing out that she would remember if she had done that. She has great faith in plasters, though, and once it was dressed she forgot all about it. I dismissed it, too, assuming it was one of those things.

By the end of the next day, the pulp on the underside of all of her toes looked the same. As the doctor in the family, I felt under some pressure to come up with an explanation. I made up something about burns from the hot paving slabs around the pool. Gracie didn’t say as much, but her look suggested a dawning scepticism over my claims to hold a medical degree.

The next day, Gracie and her new-found holiday playmate, Eve, abruptly terminated a marathon piggy-in-the-middle session in the pool with Eve’s dad. “Our feet are bleeding,” they announced, somewhat incredulously. Sure enough, bright-red blood was flowing, apparently painlessly, from the bottoms of their big toes.

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Often, what patients discover on the internet causes them undue alarm, and our role is to provide context and reassurance. But not infrequently, people come across information that outstrips our knowledge. On my return from our room with fresh supplies of plasters, my wife looked up from her sun lounger with an air of quiet amusement.

“It’s called ‘pool toe’,” she said, handing me her iPhone. The page she had tracked down described the girls’ situation exactly: friction burns, most commonly seen in children, caused by repetitive hopping about on the abrasive floors of swimming pools. Doctors practising in hot countries must see it all the time. I doubt it presents often to British GPs.

I remained puzzled about the lack of pain. The injuries looked bad, but neither Gracie nor Eve was particularly bothered. Here the internet drew a blank, but I suspect it has to do with the “pruning” of our skin that we’re all familiar with after a soak in the bath. This only occurs over the pulps of our fingers and toes. It was once thought to be caused by water diffusing into skin cells, making them swell, but the truth is far more fascinating.

The wrinkling is an active process, triggered by immersion, in which the blood supply to the pulp regions is switched off, causing the skin there to shrink and pucker. This creates the biological equivalent of tyre treads on our fingers and toes and markedly improves our grip – of great evolutionary advantage when grasping slippery fish in a river, or if trying to maintain balance on slick wet rocks.

The flip side of this is much greater friction, leading to abrasion of the skin through repeated micro-trauma. And the lack of blood flow causes nerves to shut down, depriving us of the pain that would otherwise alert us to the ongoing tissue damage. An adaptation that helped our ancestors hunt in rivers proves considerably less use on a modern summer holiday.

I may not have seen much of the local heritage, but the trip to Italy taught me something new all the same. 

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear