The Mayor of London, who announced earlier this month that he would – in spite of denying it at least 17 times in the past four years – stand to be an MP in 2015, has confirmed his target seat: the west London suburban constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
“I am sure there will be plenty of excellent candidates and I look forward to making my case to the association.”
It was widely assumed Uxbridge would be one of Johnson’s choices upon announcing his intention to stand again, so the news is not really surprising. The incumbent, Conservative MP Sir John Randall, is standing down in 2015, and it is a safe Tory seat, with a 11,216 majority.
The Standard reports Randall’s comments from earlier this month discussing Uxbridge as Johnson’s potential seat:
“If he got into the final three or four he couldn’t rely on just getting in because he is Boris. He will have to give a good speech…
“He will have to prove he is not just coming to use it just to get into Parliament. I think he understands this.
“If he just turned up and made a not-thought-about-it-much sort of speech that wouldn’t go down well.”
Assuming Johnson’s selected as the constituency’s Tory candidate, it won’t be an easy ride for him. As my colleague George Eaton pointed out following Johnson’s decision to stand, Heathrow airport is one of the west London constituency’s biggest employers. It is also the airport Johnson has called on to be closed down. He said last year that the closure of both Britain and Europe’s largest airport would be a “fantastic opportunity for London” to develop a new garden city or royal borough. Johnson has spoken repeatedly against Heathrow, championing for years his alternative plan, based in the Thames Estuary, for expanding the UK’s airport capacity expansion: “Boris Island”.
Residents have already started voicing their fears about their potential future representative’s negative stance towards what is not only a world-renowned airport, but also their main local business and employment hub.
However, Johnson’s ability to bounce back, at zip-wire speed, from his past stances is one of his (rather dubious) political qualities, and it may be the same with Heathrow. An insider at the airport’s HQ told me that the Mayor and Heathrow’s bigwigs sat down for lunch together in a sort of act of unity against their common enemy, Gatwick and the airport “constellation” model, before the Howard Davies airport commission was about to deliver its aviation expansion shortlist at the end of last year. I’m sure Johnson will employ his skills of diplomacy with equal aptitude, and disregard for his former beliefs, this time round.