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.

Photo: Getty
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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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