For most of this parliament, Downing Street has been thoroughly paranoid about Boris Johnson and his intentions. Any attempt by the Mayor to reach out to Tory MPs was met with deep suspicion. But now, the Tory leadership is actively pushing Boris to see Tory MPs — he was even invited to join the Whips for a Whips Supper at Boisdale last week.
This is all evidence of the unspoken deal between Boris and the Tory leadership. He will be loyal and campaign hard for Cameron. In exchange, it will allow him to cultivate Tory MPs; helping him to rectify his biggest weakness ahead of any Tory leadership contest.
These arrangements suit everyone involved. Cameron and Osborne know that they are more likely to win with the most popular politician in the country stumping for them—and given that both of their future political careers are dependent on victory in May that’s no small thing.
Those around Boris used to think that his best chance of becoming PM was to replace Cameron this side of the election. But the new view in Boris’s circle is that his quickest route to the top job comes from Cameron winning in May and then stepping down after an EU referendum. As one of them puts it, ‘’If Cameron wins in May, Boris could be Prime Minister in 18 months or so. If Miliband wins, he’ll have to be Leader of the Opposition for five years.’