London Mayor Boris Johnson ends months of speculation by announcing that he wants to stand for parliament in 2015.
In a major speech about the European Union in London, Boris Johnson revealed that he did want to be an MP again, despite repeatedly dismissing rumours that he would try to return to the Commons in the past.
“I haven’t got any particular seat lined up but I do think that in all probability… I will try to find somewhere to stand in 2015,” he said during a question-and-answer session following a speech.
He added: “It’s highly likely I will be unsuccessful in that venture” and said people should “never underestimate the possibility of this going badly wrong – I will try”.
When asked if his target seat would be within the M25 or in a constituency in the north of England, he said: “This is a matter for the (local Conservative) association. I am not going to presume to talk about which seat I might go for.”
Mr Johnson, who says he is a supporter of David Cameron, is often touted as a potential future Conservative leader and news that he has ambitions to return to parliament raised the prospect of his challenging the prime minister.
But Mr Cameron said he welcomed the news.
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.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) August 6, 2014
Bookmakers Ladbrokes slashed the odds of Mr Johnson becoming the next Conservative leader from 5/1 to 9/4, while his odds of becoming the next prime minister have been halved to 5/1 after the news.
Mr Johnson said that if he selected to run, he would still finish his term as London mayor, which is due to end in 2016.
The surprise announcement came at the end of a speech in which he raised the prospect that Britain could leave the European Union if Mr Cameron fails to achieve his promised reforms.
The London mayor acknowledged that he had been keeping people guessing about his intentions for some time. “I think we’ve danced around it an awfully long time now, and as you know the prime minister ages ago said he would welcome me back – very kind of him to say so – and has also been pretty clear that I can’t endlessly go on dodging these questions as I’ve tried to do,” he said.
“So, let me put it this way – I have not got any particular seat lined up but I do think in all probability – since you can’t do these things furtively, I might as well be absolutely clear – in all probability I will try to find somewhere to stand in 2015.”
Labour Sadiq Khan, the shadow minister for London, said Mr Johnson’s announcement showed the Conservatives were turning in on themselves.
“Boris Johnson’s announcement reveals how weak David Cameron is and how out of touch the Tories remain,” he said. “Rather than focusing on helping the millions of Britons suffering from the cost-of-living crisis, the Tories are increasingly turning inwards, focused on leadership battles to come, with David Cameron powerless to do anything about it.”