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.

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Erdogan’s purge was too big and too organised to be a mere reaction to the failed coup

There is a specific word for the melancholy of Istanbul. The city is suffering a mighty bout of something like hüzün at the moment. 

Even at the worst of times Istanbul is a beautiful city, and the Bosphorus is a remarkable stretch of sea. Turks get very irritated if you call it a river. They are right. The Bosphorus has a life and energy that a river could never equal. Spend five minutes watching the Bosphorus and you can understand why Orhan Pamuk, Turkey’s Nobel laureate for literature, became fixated by it as he grew up, tracking the movements of the ocean-going vessels, the warships and the freighters as they steamed between Asia and Europe.

I went to an Ottoman palace on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, waiting to interview the former prime minister Ahmet Davu­toglu. He was pushed out of office two months ago by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when he appeared to be too wedded to the clauses in the Turkish constitution which say that the prime minister is the head of government and the president is a ceremonial head of state. Erdogan was happy with that when he was prime minister. But now he’s president, he wants to change the constitution. If Erdogan can win the vote in parliament he will, in effect, be rubber-stamping the reality he has created since he became president. In the days since the attempted coup, no one has had any doubt about who is the power in the land.

 

City of melancholy

The view from the Ottoman palace was magnificent. Beneath a luscious, pine-shaded garden an oil tanker plied its way towards the Black Sea. Small ferries dodged across the sea lanes. It was not, I hasten to add, Davutoglu’s private residence. It had just been borrowed, for the backdrop. But it reminded a Turkish friend of something she had heard once from the AKP, Erdogan’s ruling party: that they would not rest until they were living in the apartments with balconies and gardens overlooking the Bosphorus that had always been the preserve of the secular elite they wanted to replace.

Pamuk also writes about hüzün, the melancholy that afflicts the citizens of Istanbul. It comes, he says, from the city’s history and its decline, the foghorns on the Bosphorus, from tumbledown walls that have been ruins since the fall of the Byzantine empire, unemployed men in tea houses, covered women waiting for buses that never come, pelting rain and dark evenings: the city’s whole fabric and all the lives within it. “My starting point,” Pamuk wrote, “was the emotion that a child might feel while looking through a steamy window.”

Istanbul is suffering a mighty bout of something like hüzün at the moment. In Pamuk’s work the citizens of Istanbul take a perverse pride in hüzün. No one in Istanbul, or elsewhere in Turkey, can draw comfort from what is happening now. Erdogan’s opponents wonder what kind of future they can have in his Turkey. I think I sensed it, too, in the triumphalist crowds of Erdogan supporters that have been gathering day after day since the coup was defeated.

 

Down with the generals

Erdogan’s opponents are not downcast because the coup failed; a big reason why it did was that it had no public support. Turks know way too much about the authoritarian ways of military rule to want it back. The melancholy is because Erdogan is using the coup to entrench himself even more deeply in power. The purge looks too far-reaching, too organised and too big to have been a quick reaction to the attempt on his power. Instead it seems to be a plan that was waiting to be used.

Turkey is a deeply unhappy country. It is hard to imagine now, but when the Arab uprisings happened in 2011 it seemed to be a model for the Middle East. It had elections and an economy that worked and grew. When I asked Davutoglu around that time whether there would be a new Ottoman sphere of influence for the 21st century, he smiled modestly, denied any such ambition and went on to explain that the 2011 uprisings were the true succession to the Ottoman empire. A century of European, and then American, domination was ending. It had been a false start in Middle Eastern history. Now it was back on track. The people of the region were deciding their futures, and perhaps Turkey would have a role, almost like a big brother.

Turkey’s position – straddling east and west, facing Europe and Asia – is the key to its history and its future. It could be, should be, a rock of stability in a desperately un­stable part of the world. But it isn’t, and that is a problem for all of us.

 

Contagion of war

The coup did not come out of a clear sky. Turkey was in deep crisis before the attempt was made. Part of the problem has come from Erdogan’s divisive policies. He has led the AKP to successive election victories since it first won in 2002. But the policies of his governments have not been inclusive. As long as his supporters are happy, the president seems unconcerned about the resentment and opposition he is generating on the other side of politics.

Perhaps that was inevitable. His mission, as a political Islamist, was to change the country, to end the power of secular elites, including the army, which had been dominant since Mustafa Kemal Atatürk created modern Turkey after the collapse of the Ottoman empire. And there is also the influence of chaos and war in the Middle East. Turkey has borders with Iraq and Syria, and is deeply involved in their wars. The borders do not stop the contagion of violence. Hundreds of people have died in the past year in bomb attacks in Turkish cities, some carried out by the jihadists of so-called Islamic State, and some sent by Kurdish separatists working under the PKK.

It is a horrible mix. Erdogan might be able to deal with it better if he had used the attempted coup to try to unite Turkey. All the parliamentary parties condemned it. But instead, he has turned the power of the state against his opponents. More rough times lie ahead.

Jeremy Bowen is the BBC’s Middle East editor. He tweets @bowenbbc

This article first appeared in the 28 July 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Summer Double Issue