This week’s Spectator charts Boris Johnson’s return to Parliament – and examines the network of MPs already helping him get there. You’ll have to wait till tomorrow to read Harry Mount’s piece, but here’s a preview, examining where the Mayor could stand as an MP.
Boris Johnson has spent an impressively long time dodging questions about whether he is going to stand as an MP in 2015, and where. He manages to do this by pulling a special bewildered face, as if he’s just an innocent chap who finds himself inexplicably in a spot of bother, rather than someone who has been leading everyone on about his political ambitions for far too long.
But in the next few weeks, his secret parliamentary campaign team (and there is one) expects him to pick his constituency. The Tories need a decision by the beginning of September, as an announcement any closer to the party conference will overshadow David Cameron’s own plans to talk about the manifesto, rather than watch hopelessly as cameras and journalists trail after Boris, asking the same question over and over again.
Uxbridge, where former deputy chief whip John Randall is standing down, is the favourite, with a 11,216 majority. The local association says it will make a decision in mid-September. Boris has promised to see his second mayoral term to its close in 2016, and Uxbridge would certainly help him do that, as it is at the end of a Tube line. But other seats are in play, too. His agents in Parliament say all those being considered would be compatible with him continuing to serve as Mayor.
Other seats include Hornchurch and Upminster: the current MP Dame Angela Watkinson is 72 and her 16,371 majority looks pretty cosy. In Hertsmere, the local association booted out its sitting MP, James Clappison, this summer, apparently for nothing more egregious than that he wasn’t very glamorous.