Coffee House

Don’t do it Boris!

23 April 2014

11:31 AM

23 April 2014

11:31 AM

Is Boris Johnson about to announce his intention to stand at the next general election? The well-connected Jason Groves reports today that Boris will make clear his plans before the Tory conference and that his friends expect him to run for parliament but stay as Mayor of London. I think this would be a mistake for Boris, a move that would make him less likely to end up as Tory leader and Prime Minister one day.

First, Boris was clear in the campaign that he wouldn’t try to return to the Commons before 2016:

‘If I am fortunate enough to win I will need four years to deliver what I have promised. And having put trust at the heart of this election, I would serve out that term in full.

‘I made a solemn vow to Londoners to lead them out of recession, bring down crime and deliver the growth, investment and jobs that this city so desperately needs. Keeping that promise cannot be combined with any other political capacity.’


It is hard to see where the wiggle room is in this statement. If he stood in 2015, he would be breaking his word — never a good look for a politician.

Second, there’s the fact that he doesn’t need to stand this time round if he is to become leader. If the Tories win in 2015, there won’t be a leadership contest until after the EU referendum in 2017. This gives Boris plenty of time to get back into the Commons. But even if they lose, a Tory leadership contest without Boris would be so absurd that it simply wouldn’t happen. Indeed, I suspect that in the event of a contest there would be several Tory MPs prepared to make way for Boris.

Boris is a unique politician. He is the only mainstream politician to have risen above the current anti-politics mood. He is also a Tory with a proven ability to reach out to those who don’t normally vote Tory; Boris got 45 per cent of first preference votes in 2012 compared to the 32 per cent that the Tories garnered in the London-wide assembly seats. But he would be an even more formidable political figure if he surprised the political class and kept his promise to stay as Mayor only until the end of his term. It would show that he isn’t another self-serving politician, that he keeps his promises even when it is inconvenient for him.

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Show comments
  • John Moss

    Boris is an individualist technocrat ideally suited to being Mayor of London. He would be useless as a backbench MP, he’s already showed he can’t avoid gaffe’s as a (shadow) minister and would never be able to hold a Cabinet together.

    Boris for PM is the ultimate confirmation of the Peter Principle.

  • swatnan

    If Boris had any sense, he’d wait till Cameron was out of the country and organise a coup. Shades of Acient Rome. Fate Acomplie. I’m sure he’d have the backing of 75% of the Party behind him and the Big Business Backers and Bankers.

  • True_Belle

    Boris’s blond helmeted hair style is of great concern!

  • Donafugata

    Every time Boris changes his socks he changes his stance on Europe but he does this because he wants to hide the fact that he is an ardent Europhile.

    When a politician appears to be equivocal on Europe, you know he is ambitious.
    He may well risk abandoning his job as mayor for his prime ministerial aspirations since he is so utterly confident of his personal charm, he thinks he can do pretty much what he likes.

  • Hello

    I don’t think Boris can just join parliament in 2016. It’s far too easy for his opponents to spin negatively about him. That it’s the wrong time for Boris to be pursuing his leadership ambitions, that he’s destabilising the government, etc. Even if he gets into parliament, it will be easy to keep him out of the cabinet, and if he wants to win the Tory leadership then he needs cabinet ministers onside, and that means being in the cabinet.

    If the Tories lose in 2015, then yes they’ll be looking for someone that can win an election, but if they don’t and the leadership election is held midway through the parliament then they’ll be looking for a PM.

    He needs to make a big thing of his joining parliament in 2016 so that it’s all planned and smooth, but that’s easier said than done when you have no idea what seat you’ll be able to take. And he needs to make sure Cameron’s promise of a cabinet seat is well known.

    • @PhilKean1

      I think he needs to become a Conservative first.

      • Hello

        Don’t we all…

  • Kitty MLB

    Heaven Forfend. Boris is eccentric, a mop head, a golden retriever, a PG Wodehouse
    character and Byron. He is not ashamed to be Conservative but he’s part of the same
    bunch as the present lot. He also doesn’t have the mental strength and too haphazard.
    No, I do not agree with this, and as for airhead Louise Mensch, we never listened
    to her inane rattling when we were supposed to, put a cork in it madam.

  • Mc Kenzie

    Louise Mensch is great isn’t she – her views are really worth listening to – well done the Telegraph for giving her a platform – oh and Boris would be a great PM….pulls up chair, gets popcorn…..

  • you_kid

    For Boris to stand in a leadership campaign he has to give a good speech or two.

  • @PhilKean1

    “Boris is an epic Europhile” – claims Louise Mensch !

    “But he is been clever to camouflage it in things like ‘I want a referendum’. A Clarkite Europhile”.

    Replacing one fanatically pro-EU leader, with another fanatically pro-EU leader, is – in my opinion – very much NOT in Britain’s national interest.
    One way to ensure that disaffected, real Conservatives never return to the Conservative fold is to go for continuity in the form of Boris.

    The Tory party needs to elect a real Conservative if it is to stand any chance of surviving beyond 2015. Electing Boris is not the way to go.

    • telemachus

      Boris is the only Tory I fear
      He is the Conservative Ed Balls
      A Tory with Charisma
      His Europhile credentials are much in his favour

      • @PhilKean1

        Love the reverse psychology.

        You say you fear him, in that you want me to think you seriously believe he presents a threat to Labour?

        And his “Europhile credentials in his favour” ? Meaning that you would like me to think being pro-EU is an electoral advantage?

        Sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t watch “lowest common denominator TV” or read the Daily Mirror.

      • @PhilKean1


        LMAO ! The political equivalent of Münchausen syndrome by proxy.


        • Kitty MLB

          Phil, Telemachus is utterly devoted to Ed Balls, its seriously
          mindboggling. And far more Stockholm Syndrome, in character.

          • telemachus

            Boris and Ed Balls have that desirable quality
            Politicians that make you smile
            Farage makes you laugh before you get sick to the stomach

            • @PhilKean1

              Can you give me one reason why Farage makes you sick to your stomach?

              Could it be …………

              (1) – That he wants the British people to be able to elect the people who make the laws they live by?
              (2) – That UKIP didn’t spend taxpayers’ money corruptly creating a Labour-voting, client state?
              (3) – That Farage didn’t cause unemployment and depressed wages for British people by allowing unlimited EU immigration?
              (4) – That UKIP did NOT drive 1 million manufacturing jobs to Asia due to their awarding of excessive employee rights?
              (5) – That UKIP did NOT impose the highest ever tax burden on the British people?
              (6) – That UKIP did NOT double GPs salaries and create a situation where they could afford to work part time, where they could afford to retire early, and where they didn’t need to work evenings and weekends?

              No, we have Blair’s Labour to thank for all that.

              • telemachus

                Moral revulsion
                This great country is above the racism we heard yesterday

                • @PhilKean1

                  Sorry, you have lost me.

                  Where’s the racism?

              • Kitty MLB

                Phil, Telemachus also supported Brown . And he has suggested there is a plot to remove Milipede and place Balls and Cooper
                at the helm of the Labour party- its all somewhat murky.

                • telemachus

                  Gordon gave the best speech I have heard for the No’s yesterday

                • @PhilKean1

                  Are you his biographer? 🙂

            • Kitty MLB

              Boris makes you smile ( I suppose, for a while) Balls
              makes to growl forever. Not too fond of Salmond, Sturgeon
              or Farage’s party are you.. They will all make a fishy platter
              out of Labour.. and will make Telemachus sick to the stomach, as you are clearly allergic.

          • @PhilKean1

            That seems hard to believe after all that we now know.

            Seriously, I wish I could prosecute every person who voted Labour since 1997. Why should people be able to escape their part in helping to destroy Britain !