The stock Cameroon line on Boris has always been that he might be a rival to George Osborne, Michael Gove, Phillip Hammond, Grant Shapps and other future leadership contenders, but he isn’t one to David Cameron.
This line, though, is becoming rather tenuous. For it is becoming clear that the London Mayor isn’t thinking about a Tory leadership election as some far-off, distant event. Certainly, the assiduousness with which he and those around him are reaching out to those left feeling bruised by Cameron’s reshuffle suggests a desire to build a support base for a rather more imminent contest.
There have been attempts today to laugh off Zac Goldsmith’s offer to stand down in Boris’s favour if Cameron doesn’t rule out a third runway at Heathrow as nothing more than a quick conversational detour. But I understand from those familiar with the discussion that it was rather more detailed than that and included the Mayor probing Goldsmith on just how strong anti-third runway sentiment is in Richmond.
One other thing that should have the antennae of Cameron loyalists twitching is Crispin Blunt’s enthusiastic backing for Boris’s position on Heathrow in the Sunday Times. Blunt standing down in his Reigate constituency is frequently indentified by Boris’s followers as one possible route back into Westminster for the Mayor.