Boris Johnson talks during a campaign rally on May 21, 2014 in Ealing. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Boris can be mayor and an MP - but could he really be mayor and Tory leader?

Johnson's pledge to serve a full term leaves him in a difficult position if the Tories are defeated in 2015. 

Boris Johnson's deceptively humble announcement that he will "try to find somewhere to stand in 2015" (his search, one suspects, won't be in vain) finally brings an end to the will-he-won't-he saga of recent years. 

Boris's allies have long argued that he could wear two hats at the same time, as Ken Livingstone did when he remained the MP for Brent East during his first year as mayor. But should the Tories be defeated at the general election, with Boris standing in the subsequent leadership election (his principal motivation for returning), the situation becomes more difficult. 

To many, it is inconceivable that he could serve as both Conservative leader and Mayor of London. One option would have been to stand down before the end of his term in May 2016, but Boris today pledged to remain at City Hall for a full four years. Unless any leadership contest is delayed, he will struggle to justify wearing three hats (Mayor, MP and Conservative leader). For this reason, Boris's ideal scenario may actually be a Tory victory in 2015 followed by Cameron departing after the in/out EU referendum in 2017. 

Then again, what are promises from him anyway? (As he puts it, "My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it".) Provided that any Conservative leadership election is delayed until six months before the end of his term, his deputy will take over and a costly by-election will be avoided. 

For now, however, the Mayor is giving nothing away. Asked today whether he wanted to return to parliament to become Conservative leader, he replied: 

No, what I said was … I'll revert to the kind of weasel mode here … What I said was, you've got party conference coming up in two months' time, you can't have this thing going on endlessly. Let's go back to Europe. I've said what I have to say. It may all go wrong but the likelihood is I am going to have to give it a crack.

Boris won't say he'll stand for the Tory leadership is the new Boris won't say he'll stand as an MP. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Grant Shapps on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty
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Grant Shapps resigns over Tory youth wing bullying scandal

The minister, formerly party chairman, has resigned over allegations of bullying and blackmail made against a Tory activist. 

Grant Shapps, who was a key figure in the Tory general election campaign, has resigned following allegations about a bullying scandal among Conservative activists.

Shapps was formerly party chairman, but was demoted to international development minister after May. His formal statement is expected shortly.

The resignation follows lurid claims about bullying and blackmail among Tory activists. One, Mark Clarke, has been accused of putting pressure on a fellow activist who complained about his behaviour to withdraw the allegation. The complainant, Elliot Johnson, later killed himself.

The junior Treasury minister Robert Halfon also revealed that he had an affair with a young activist after being warned that Clarke planned to blackmail him over the relationship. Former Tory chair Sayeedi Warsi says that she was targeted by Clarke on Twitter, where he tried to portray her as an anti-semite. 

Shapps appointed Mark Clarke to run RoadTrip 2015, where young Tory activists toured key marginals on a bus before the general election. 

Today, the Guardian published an emotional interview with the parents of 21-year-old Elliot Johnson, the activist who killed himself, in which they called for Shapps to consider his position. Ray Johnson also spoke to BBC's Newsnight:


The Johnson family claimed that Shapps and co-chair Andrew Feldman had failed to act on complaints made against Clarke. Feldman says he did not hear of the bullying claims until August. 

Asked about the case at a conference in Malta, David Cameron pointedly refused to offer Shapps his full backing, saying a statement would be released. “I think it is important that on the tragic case that took place that the coroner’s inquiry is allowed to proceed properly," he added. “I feel deeply for his parents, It is an appalling loss to suffer and that is why it is so important there is a proper coroner’s inquiry. In terms of what the Conservative party should do, there should be and there is a proper inquiry that asks all the questions as people come forward. That will take place. It is a tragic loss of a talented young life and it is not something any parent should go through and I feel for them deeply.” 

Mark Clarke denies any wrongdoing.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.