By declaring his interest in Parliament, Boris has also indicated an interest in the Tory leadership. Photo: Getty
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Boris Johnson announces that he will stand as an MP in 2015

He says he intends to serve out his second term as London Mayor, and does not have a specific constituency in his sights yet.

Boris Johnson has declared his intention to stand as an MP in 2015, after years of speculation that he wants to return to parliament.

He made the statement in response to a question after a speech at Bloomberg on the EU this morning. He said:

I can't endlessly go on dodging these questions... Let me put it this way. I haven't got any particular seat lined up but I do think in all probability I will try to find somewhere to stand in 2015.”

He went on to say that he has every intention of serving out his full second term as London Mayor, though. If he is successful, this would mean he would be both an MP and London Mayor until the 2016 mayoral election. This isn't unprecedented – Ken Livingstone continued to serve as MP for Brent East until the 2001 election after he became mayor in 2000.

Johnson said: “It is highly likely I will be unsuccessful in that venture, by the way. You can never underestimate the possibility of things going badly wrong. But I will try that.” He was previously MP for Henley from 2001 to 2008 before standing as Mayor.

When asked if he intended to return to parliament in order to stand for the Tory leadership, he said: “No. I don't want revert to weasel mode here.” He also said that he was making the announcement now to “clear the air” before the Conservative party conference in September.

Londoners may be surprised to hear that Johnson is considering adding an MP’s duties to his workload as Mayor. During the 2012 mayoral election, he told the Evening Standard of his “solemn vow” to make the city his priority:

If I am fortunate enough to win I will need four years to deliver what I have promised. And having put trust at the heart of this election, I would serve out that term in full...I made a solemn vow to Londoners to lead them out of recession, bring down crime and deliver the growth, investment and jobs that this city so desperately needs. Keeping that promise cannot be combined with any other political capacity.”

By finally ending the speculation about his return to arliament, Boris has kicked off a whole new round of whispers – this time about the Tory leadership. It has long been assumed that Boris intended to try and succeed David Cameron as leader. Now we can be fairly certain that’s the job he’s really aiming for.

Labour MP Sadiq Khan, who is almost certain to stand for London mayor in 2016, said:

London is a city facing huge challenges – unprecendented population growth, a desperate housing crisis and rocketing inequality. Under Boris Johnson no progress has been made in meeting any of these challenges. As a lifelong Londoner I want to see a mayor who is dedicated to making our city the best place in the world to live. A mayor who puts London first.

Boris Johnson has made it absolutely clear today that his priority is succeeding David Cameron as Tory leader rather than serving the interests of Londoners. London deserves better than this.”

David Cameron (although on holiday) has weighed in via Twitter with an excruciating football metaphor:

The PM told the Today programme in October 2013 that he would give Boris a “warm welcome” if he wanted to return:

I've had this conversation with Boris and my message to him is: 'You're a brilliant mayor of London, you've done a great job, you've got a lot more to give to public life and it would be great to have you back in the House of Commons at some stage contributing to public life.' That's up to him, but I'll certainly be giving him a warm welcome.”

Asked whether he could stand while still London Mayor, Cameron said: “Absolutely, but that's a matter for him, it's his plan”. He also tried to scotch rumours that Johnson intends to follow him as leader by saying that he and Johnson could “make a very strong team together”.

Update 6 August 11:25:

You can now watch Boris’s announcement:

Caroline Crampton is assistant editor of the New Statesman. She writes a weekly podcast column.

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How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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