Boris Johnson says he will stand in next UK election
Conservative heavyweight Boris Johnson has finally ended years of speculation, evasion and denials by declaring that he will stand for the House of Commons in next year’s general election.
However, Mr Johnson insists he will also see out his term as mayor of London, which ends in 2016 – although he previously made it clear that the post could not be filled by someone who was also an MP.
Saying that “we’ve danced around it for an awfully long time”, Mr Johnson, one of the best-known figures in British public life, said he had come to realise “I can’t endlessly go on dodging these questions as I’ve tried to do”.
Seen as a tousle-haired, bumptious figure by some, Mr Johnson is in fact ruthlessly ambitious and still harbours strong ambitions to be the next Conservative leader and prime minister.
Yesterday’s announcement was carefully planned and came in the wake of a deeply Eurosceptic speech, where he said the UK should quit the EU unless it wins a series of reforms.
The speech was a clarion call to Conservative backbenchers, putting him in prime position to challenge for the leadership after David Cameron leaves or, perhaps, even to challenge him.
However, Mr Johnson said Mr Cameron was instrumental in getting him to throw his hat into the ring for the Commons – although he has yet to find a constituency, but that will prove to be but a little problem.
Mr Cameron tweeted from his Portuguese family holiday: “Great news that Boris plans to stand at next year’s general election – I’ve always said I want my star players on the pitch.”
A report commissioned by Mr Johnson’s chief economic adviser Gerard Lyons argues that the UK’s best option is to stay in the EU, but with a reformed relationship – closely followed by exiting it.
Accepting that an exit would lead to “a scratchy period” for the UK, Mr Johnson rejected doom-laden forecasts, saying the rest of the UK would want to agree a trade deal with it.
However, he has raised the ante for Mr Cameron in his bid to win reforms by putting forth some exceptionally tough-to-achieve ambitions, including “further reform, if not the abolition” of the Common Agricultural Policy; curbing the influence of the European Court of Justice; allowing EU states to limit free movement rules, while national parliaments should be able to block the European Commission and European Parliament.
“If we succeed in getting these reforms, we should put the amendments to the British people for an in-out referendum, and if we get the reforms then I would frankly be happy to campaign for a Yes to stay in,” he said.