Boris Johnson denied he'd run for parliament in 2015 at least 17 times. Photo: Getty
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Boris Johnson denied at least 17 times that he would return to parliament in 2015

The Mayor of London, who has announced he'll be running to be an MP, has consistently denied his wish to return to parliament in 2015.

Boris Johnson upon apparently discovering his predecessor at City Hall Ken Livingstone served both as an MP and Mayor of London simultaneously for over a year was markedly intrigued: 

"Was he really? How long did he do it for?... Really?... Did he?" he spluttered to the Total Politics journalist who was interviewing him, in April this year.

Whether or not this was just bluster, it’s clear Johnson has been tracking his route back to parliament for some time. Of course, he has served as Mayor of London at the same time as being an MP already. Very briefly, at the beginning of his mayoralty in 2008, he continued to be MP for Henley for a few weeks after taking his place at City Hall. So he’s always known it’s possible, and now he’s finally made it public that he will serve out his second term as London mayor (until the 2016 mayoral election), and also run for parliament in the 2015 general election.

However, he’s both skirted around the issue and outright denied his desire to return to parliament in 2015 for some time. Now he’s broken his word, it’s worth looking back at all the times he’s insisted he wouldn’t be running, or dodged the question, with a little help from BuzzFeed’s “11 Times Boris Johnson Denied He Will Stand For Parliament In 2015”.

2011

Do you miss the House of Commons?

I haven’t really missed it that much I have to admit. I love doing what I do.

I was a little surprised when you stood down from Parliament. I thought it would be great to have the Mayor of London in the House of Commons because it gives you a national platform. But I suppose if you have a constituency outside London it’s a bit difficult.

It’s so difficult. South Oxfordshire is a different kettle of fish. It wouldn’t have worked in the long run.

Can you see yourself back in there at some point?

I think Guto [Harri – Boris's head of press] will be there before I’m there.

February, in conversation with Iain Dale in Total Politics magazine

 

***

He says it would be "inconceivable" for him to be both an MP and Mayor if he wins the 2012 election:

“Complete nonsense... The job of Mayor of London is the most wonderful, most engrossing job I could ever imagine I would have in politics and loads of people realise how lucky I am to be here. And I hugely enjoy it, we've got an amazing team in City Hall.

“It gluts the appetite for power and executive action, and I love it. And I really don't want to do anything else. What I want is to get re-elected.

“I've said that I won't go beyond a second term. I'll be well-struck in years. I can certainly promise Londoners that I will fight my absolute utmost to secure a second term. I will do everything I can to persuade them to re-elect us and then I will do the best I can for the next four years.”

September, ITV interview during Conservative Party Conference, from The Telegraph

 

***

“Look, what I have said is that I won’t go on [as mayor] after eight years,” Johnson said when pressed. “I think you can go on too long.” What about cutting short the eight years? “No.” So he will serve a full second term? “You betcha!” Suddenly, he sounds more like the Wodehousian figure many adore. Asked whether he could serve as both an MP and mayor, he declined to comment but gave a low laugh.

September, interview with Prospect magazine

 

2012

BORIS Johnson last night ruled out ever trying to steal David Cameron’s PM crown.

He also declared he will NOT run to be an MP again in the 2015 General Election.

January, The Sun

 

***

There has been speculation that Mr Johnson could be a future Conservative Party leader, but he told the BBC he was dedicating himself to London and people could "take it for granted" that he would not stand as an MP at the 2015 general election.

May, the BBC, upon his re-election as London Mayor

 

***

I’m absolutely not going to be returning to Parliament, I’ve got to do a job here in London and that’s what I want to do and it’s a massive, engrossing job.

September, The Evening Standard

 

***

Mr Johnson stated explicitly that he would not return to Parliament before his mayoral term is up.

October, at Tory party conference, the Mail

 

2013

Boris Johnson has said he does not want to be parachuted in to another MP's seat in order to return to the House of Commons, a Derbyshire Tory party member has claimed.

March, The Derby Telegraph

 

***

Having been accused of ‘dithering’ by backbenchers, it seems Boris has no plans to commit to re-entering Parliament – or remaining as Mayor until 2016. In a recent interview on Pienaar’s Politics on Radio 5 Live, John Pienaar asked the Mayor whether he intended to “keep fudging” the issue about returning to the House of Commons. “Yes,” came the reply.

March, BorisWatch

 

***

Boris Johnson will not stand for parliament at the next election, The Spectator understands. The Mayor of London has told the Cameron circle that he will not seek to return to the Commons in a pre-2015 by-election, nor will he stand at the general election.

July, The Spectator

 

***

Getting down to the nitty gritty of the interview, I ask what it's like being mayor of London. "It's the best job in British politics by miles and I feel increasingly morose that I've forsworn the idea of standing again," he responds emphatically. "As the date draws nearer, like all people who love their job, I'm starting to think 'oh no', but it probably is the right thing to do to give another three years of real effort and then pack it in."

He won't be drawn on what he plans to do next, except, he says, firmly on message, to put the full weight of his support behind Cameron.

August, The Australian

 

***

He has told friends that he has no desire to spend the three years after 2015 serving under Cameron.

August, The Spectator

 

***

Boris Johnson has batted away suggestions he will become an MP again – by claiming he would rather write ‘airport bonk busters’ instead.

October, Metro

 

***

Asked if he will be an MP in 2015, Mr Johnson replied: "No, because I have got a huge amount of work to do and I have got to get on and deliver a colossal amount of stuff in London. What happens after two and a half years of being Mayor, who knows?”

December, York Press

 

2014

Boris Johnson has ruled out standing for Parliament in the run-up to next year’s general election and denied that George Osborne has attempted to convince him to return to Westminster...

The Mayor of London said he was “sick” of discussing his future plans after reports that was left furious following claims that the Chancellor had made a “personal approach” urging him to stand as an MP.

January, the Telegraph

 

***

In a 2011 questions session, Johnson was asked by Assembly member John Biggs if he would “undertake to not seek alternative elected office whilst Mayor of London.” BoJo’s one word response? “Yes.”

April, the Evening Standard

 

***

London Mayor Boris Johnson has denied reports this morning he is going to announce he will stand as an MP at next year's general election.

April, LBC

 

***

He won’t even give a give a clear answer on whether or not he will seek a seat at the 2015 general election. “I refer the Honourable Member to the answer I gave a moment ago,” he says. “People want to hear a lot less about, you know, my career and anybody else’s career, and they want to hear a lot more about number one, how are we going to stop Miliband, who I think would be disaster for this country, and number two, get on with a serious programme for Conservative reform of Britain. The more we navel gaze… let’s look forward.”

April, Total Politics magazine
 

After all these denials, it’s worth looking out for when Boris will break his solemn promise that he is not looking to become Tory leader or prime minister: “As I never tire of saying, my chances of becoming prime minister are only slightly better than being decapitated by a frisbee, blinded by a champagne cork, locked in a fridge or being reincarnated as an olive.”

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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The campaign to keep Britain in Europe must be based on hope, not fear

Together we can show the world a generous, outward-facing Britain we can all be proud of.

Today the Liberal Democrats launched our national campaign to keep Britain in Europe. With the polls showing the outcome of this referendum is on a knife-edge, our party is determined to play a decisive role in this once in a generation fight. This will not be an easy campaign. But it is one we will relish as the UK's most outward-looking and internationalist party. Together in Europe the UK has delivered peace, created the world’s largest free trade area and given the British people the opportunity to live, work and travel freely across the continent. Now is the time to build on these achievements, not throw them all away.

Already we are hearing fear-mongering from both sides in this heated debate. On the one hand, Ukip and the feuding Leave campaigns have shamelessly seized on the events in Cologne at New Year to claim that British women will be at risk if the UK stays in Europe. On the other, David Cameron claims that the refugees he derides as a "bunch of migrants" in Calais will all descend on the other side of the Channel the minute Britain leaves the EU. The British public deserve better than this. Rather than constant mud-slinging and politicising of the world's biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, we need a frank and honest debate about what is really at stake. Most importantly this should be a positive campaign, one that is fought on hope and not on fear. As we have a seen in Scotland, a referendum won through scare tactics alone risks winning the battle but losing the war.

The voice of business and civil society, from scientists and the police to environmental charities, have a crucial role to play in explaining how being in the EU benefits the British economy and enhances people's everyday lives. All those who believe in Britain's EU membership must not be afraid to speak out and make the positive case why being in Europe makes us more prosperous, stable and secure. Because at its heart this debate is not just about facts and figures, it is about what kind of country we want to be.

The Leave campaigns cannot agree what they believe in. Some want the UK to be an offshore, deregulated tax haven, others advocate a protectionist, mean-hearted country that shuts it doors to the world. As with so many populist movements, from Putin to Trump, they are defined not by what they are for but what they are against. Their failure to come up with a credible vision for our country's future is not patriotic, it is irresponsible.

This leaves the field open to put forward a united vision of Britain's place in Europe and the world. Liberal Democrats are clear what we believe in: an open, inclusive and tolerant nation that stands tall in the world and doesn't hide from it. We are not uncritical of the EU's institutions. Indeed as Liberals, we fiercely believe that power must be devolved to the lowest possible level, empowering communities and individuals wherever possible to make decisions for themselves. But we recognise that staying in Europe is the best way to find the solutions to the problems that don't stop at borders, rather than leaving them to our children and grandchildren. We believe Britain must put itself at the heart of our continent's future and shape a more effective and more accountable Europe, focused on responding to major global challenges we face.

Together in Europe we can build a strong and prosperous future, from pioneering research into life-saving new medicines to tackling climate change and fighting international crime. Together we can provide hope for the desperate and spread the peace we now take for granted to the rest of the world. And together we can show the world a generous, outward-facing Britain we can all be proud of. So if you agree then join the Liberal Democrat campaign today, to remain in together, and to stand up for the type of Britain you think we should be.