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”.


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



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



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



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.

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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.