‘Most people at Westminster assume that Boris — compared by one of his editors to Marilyn Monroe, “another egomaniacal blonde” — still harbours ambitions to lead his party. As a boy he used to declare that when he grew up he wanted to be “world king”, so Tory leader would at least be a step on the ladder. Even as the results were coming in on election night, and Conservative high command was starting to panic about the lack of an overall majority, Boris’s sister Rachel Johnson tweeted merrily: “It’s all gone tits up — call for Boris!”
A minister loyal to Mr Cameron says: “He wouldn’t be welcome back in Parliament. People think he’s a loser, a charlatan, and that he has an over-inflated sense of himself. He can go and be a buffoon somewhere else.”
Sylvester compares this toffy-nosed drama to the plebian connivances at the heart of New Labour. Politics may well be cyclical and Boris may share the ambition that visibly defaced Gordon Brown. First, though, Johnson is expected to ape that other political maverick, Ken Livingstone, and run for mayoral re-election; in fact, the two mavericks are likely to go head to head. If Boris wins in 2012 against the odds and the government’s unpopularity, expect his ambition to become a little more diaphanous.