Unsurprisingly, Uxbridge and South Ruislip Conservatives picked Boris Johnson last night as their parliamentary candidate for the 2015 election. Boris has a 11,216 majority to defend, but that’s only the start of the work he needs to do.
His supporters are well aware that before the Mayor can ever throw his hat into that leadership ring that they’re all looking forward to, he needs to build better links in the Parliamentary Conservative party beyond those who already think he is wonderful. He needs to reach out, for instance, to those MPs who have been brought into the George Osborne camp by the Chancellor’s clever system of patronage and promotion. Boris might be hoping that he can exploit the major flaw in his rival’s method of building support: it is all based on what George can do to sate personal ambition, rather than what he can do for the Conservatives as a party. Boris’ supporters are attracted by the latter, and the Mayor needs to convince other MPs that this is what should drive their decision in any future leadership contest.
Even if the party turmoil after a ‘Yes’ vote on Thursday does claim David Cameron’s head, it would be highly unlikely that Boris would try to succeed Cameron. Commons watchers tell me that his supporters regard any leadership contest that takes place before the Mayor is installed in his Uxbridge seat as illegitimate anyway, and one that could be overturned quite swiftly.