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24 June 2010

What will Boris do next?

Conservative sources say he will run for Mayor of London again. His camp says that’s premature. Trut

By James Macintyre

Having repeatedly written about the rivalry that dare not speak its name, between the fellow Old Etonians Boris Johnson and David Cameron, I was intrigued by speculation yesterday that “Bozza” had, after all, decided he would run again for Mayor of London instead of seeking to return to the Commons.

Westminster observers have long speculated that he would like to re-enter the House, from where he could mount a campaign to fulfil his secret ambition of becoming leader of the Tory party and prime minister.

The best write-up about this speculation, which began in the London Evening Standard, comes in today’s Independent, in a piece by Nigel Morris. Morris acknowledges that Johnson appears set to return. But then, having spoken to Johnson’s people, he adds this telling paragraph:

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said reports he would definitely stand again were premature. But he added: “The mayor has always made clear he thinks this is the best job in the world and if it’s all going well, at a suitable point in his mayoralty he would be minded to seek the people’s endorsement to run again. He has signalled in the past that he would come to that decision in the summer.”

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Hmm. It may well be that ultimately Johnson is pressured into standing again. “Conservative sources” are naturally keen to push this idea, as Johnson, who likes to take populist positions aimed at pleasing the Tory rank and file, is nothing but trouble for Cameron. Yet I understand that Johnson is still genuinely reluctant to declare his hand.

Time will tell, but it would be a mistake for Cameron to relax too much, because Johnson definitely, as always, has his eye on the ultimate prize.