London mayor plans return to parliament

August 07, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

LONDON: London’s colourful mayor, Boris Johnson, widely regarded as a potential challenger for Prime Minister David Cameron’s job, said yesterday he would try to run for parliament in next year’s national election.

Winning a parliamentary seat would be the first step in any bid to succeed Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party — a job that Johnson has coyly denied interest in for years while at the same time fuelling constant media speculation.

“I haven’t got any particular seat lined up but ... since you can’t do these things furtively I might as well be absolutely clear that with all probability I will try to find somewhere to stand in 2015,” he told an audience in London.

Known for his eccentric manner, sharp wit and unruly mop of blond hair, Johnson, 50, has gained popularity beyond the Conservatives’ traditional voter base. He has won two mayoral elections in London despite large parts of the city voting for the opposition Labour party in a 2010 national election. Johnson was celebrated for his role in London’s successful hosting of the 2012 Olympics, an event which boosted his profile overseas — not least for a botched public appearance which left him dangling on a zip wire above a rainy London park holding Union Jack flags.

Cameron welcomed Johnson’s decision, even though it is likely to reignite speculation about his future as leader.

“Great news that Boris plans to stand at next year’s general election — I’ve always said I want my star players on the pitch,” Cameron, who is currently holidaying in Portugal with his family, said on Twitter.

A YouGov poll in June showed that voters see Johnson as the person who would make the best leader if Cameron stepped down.

Both attended the elite Eton school, though Cameron is two years Johnson’s junior. Both were also members of the Bullingdon Club.