Isabel Hardman

Why Boris Johnson doesn’t want a Tory leadership contest this year

Why Boris Johnson doesn’t want a Tory leadership contest this year
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Even though Boris is building up support for his leadership campaign, he doesn’t want to have to stand in one this year. He needs David Cameron to remain Prime Minister after the General Election, and, as James reported recently, then take over following an EU referendum. That’s perhaps why the Mayor seemed quite keen on an earlier vote than the 2017 one that Cameron has officially promised. But a 2015 leadership contest, which the Mayor would certainly participate in, would come too early, partly because Boris still needs to shore up his support from MPs, and partly because he would still be Mayor. In an interview with the Evening Standard, he said he wouldn’t want to stand down early today. He said:

‘Why would I want to stand down? That would be insane, totally deranged. It’s the most wonderful job.’

That’s not a full-on denial that he wouldn’t stand down, by the way, but even on quite clear pledges, such as the one that he couldn’t be an MP and ‘lead London out of recession’, he has found wriggle room. Today he told the paper that mMany people combine big executive jobs with representing a constituency. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have a whole country to run. London is equivalent to a large department of state.’

Of course, if the Tories fail to hang onto power, then Boris will find that the leadership contest comes within weeks of him joining the Commons. That won’t be ideal, but then again that’s why he’s having friendly suppers with MPs now - just in case.