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 senior writer at the New Statesman.

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Is defeat in Stoke the beginning of the end for Paul Nuttall?

The Ukip leader was his party's unity candidate. But after his defeat in Stoke, the old divisions are beginning to show again

In a speech to Ukip’s spring conference in Bolton on February 17, the party’s once and probably future leader Nigel Farage laid down the gauntlet for his successor, Paul Nuttall. Stoke’s by-election was “fundamental” to the future of the party – and Nuttall had to win.
 
One week on, Nuttall has failed that test miserably and thrown the fundamental questions hanging over Ukip’s future into harsh relief. 

For all his bullish talk of supplanting Labour in its industrial heartlands, the Ukip leader only managed to increase the party’s vote share by 2.2 percentage points on 2015. This paltry increase came despite Stoke’s 70 per cent Brexit majority, and a media narrative that was, until the revelations around Nuttall and Hillsborough, talking the party’s chances up.
 
So what now for Nuttall? There is, for the time being, little chance of him resigning – and, in truth, few inside Ukip expected him to win. Nuttall was relying on two well-rehearsed lines as get-out-of-jail free cards very early on in the campaign. 

The first was that the seat was a lowly 72 on Ukip’s target list. The second was that he had been leader of party whose image had been tarnished by infighting both figurative and literal for all of 12 weeks – the real work of his project had yet to begin. 

The chances of that project ever succeeding were modest at the very best. After yesterday’s defeat, it looks even more unlikely. Nuttall had originally stated his intention to run in the likely by-election in Leigh, Greater Manchester, when Andy Burnham wins the Greater Manchester metro mayoralty as is expected in May (Wigan, the borough of which Leigh is part, voted 64 per cent for Brexit).

If he goes ahead and stands – which he may well do – he will have to overturn a Labour majority of over 14,000. That, even before the unedifying row over the veracity of his Hillsborough recollections, was always going to be a big challenge. If he goes for it and loses, his leadership – predicated as it is on his supposed ability to win votes in the north - will be dead in the water. 

Nuttall is not entirely to blame, but he is a big part of Ukip’s problem. I visited Stoke the day before The Guardian published its initial report on Nuttall’s Hillsborough claims, and even then Nuttall’s campaign manager admitted that he was unlikely to convince the “hard core” of Conservative voters to back him. 

There are manifold reasons for this, but chief among them is that Nuttall, despite his newfound love of tweed, is no Nigel Farage. Not only does he lack his name recognition and box office appeal, but the sad truth is that the Tory voters Ukip need to attract are much less likely to vote for a party led by a Scouser whose platform consists of reassuring working-class voters their NHS and benefits are safe.
 
It is Farage and his allies – most notably the party’s main donor Arron Banks – who hold the most power over Nuttall’s future. Banks, who Nuttall publicly disowned as a non-member after he said he was “sick to death” of people “milking” the Hillsborough disaster, said on the eve of the Stoke poll that Ukip had to “remain radical” if it wanted to keep receiving his money. Farage himself has said the party’s campaign ought to have been “clearer” on immigration. 

Senior party figures are already briefing against Nuttall and his team in the Telegraph, whose proprietors are chummy with the beer-swilling Farage-Banks axis. They deride him for his efforts to turn Ukip into “NiceKip” or “Nukip” in order to appeal to more women voters, and for the heavy-handedness of his pitch to Labour voters (“There were times when I wondered whether I’ve got a purple rosette or a red one on”, one told the paper). 

It is Nuttall’s policy advisers - the anti-Farage awkward squad of Suzanne Evans, MEP Patrick O’Flynn (who famously branded Farage "snarling, thin-skinned and aggressive") and former leadership candidate Lisa Duffy – come in for the harshest criticism. Herein lies the leader's almost impossible task. Despite having pitched to members as a unity candidate, the two sides’ visions for Ukip are irreconcilable – one urges him to emulate Trump (who Nuttall says he would not have voted for), and the other urges a more moderate tack. 

Endorsing his leader on Question Time last night, Ukip’s sole MP Douglas Carswell blamed the legacy of the party’s Tea Party-inspired 2015 general election campaign, which saw Farage complain about foreigners with HIV using the NHS in ITV’s leaders debate, for the party’s poor performance in Stoke. Others, such as MEP Bill Etheridge, say precisely the opposite – that Nuttall must be more like Farage. 

Neither side has yet called for Nuttall’s head. He insists he is “not going anywhere”. With his febrile party no stranger to abortive coup and counter-coup, he is unlikely to be the one who has the final say.