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March 21, 2014 5:40 pm
Boris Johnson has sidestepped a call by David Cameron for him to stand as an MP in 2015, after the prime minister said he was “a great striker” who was needed “on the team”.
Mr Cameron was asked about the London mayor’s political future during an interview with the Sun newspaper. “I want him [Mr Johnson] to get back in parliament. I think he’s great. It’s a bit like football if you have got a great striker you want him on the pitch,” he said.
The prime minister said Mr Johnson should stand in 2015, but that it was the mayor’s decision whether to serve his full mayoral term to 2016, while doubling up as an MP. “It’s up to him. He can complete as mayor, or he can stay on as mayor and come back to the House. I want him on the team.”
The comments followed speculation over Mr Johnson’s designs on Downing Street, which Mr Cameron suggested was a natural ambition. “It wouldn’t be a great job to have if people didn’t want it,” he said. “There is nothing ignoble about wanting my job.”
However, Mr Johnson refused to be drawn on the question of a return to parliament: “Between now and May next year [the next general election] only two things matter to me – delivering for London and returning David Cameron to Number 10 as prime minister of a majority Conservative government. I have got a huge job to do in London but I will be doing all I can to make that happen.”
Newspaper reports recently suggested George Osborne, chancellor, had lobbied Mr Johnson to stand as an MP in 2015 as a way of tying in the Tory mayor to the fate of the current party regime.
Denying he had been approached, Mr Johnson nonetheless refused to rule out a return to Westminster for the general election.
The subject was reignited this week after Stanley Johnson, the mayor’s father, said his son should be allowed to stand as Conservative leader even if he is not an MP.
“It just wouldn’t be reasonable if Boris somehow was not able to be a candidate,” the former Tory MEP told journalists, suggesting the party rules could be changed to allow him stand before a return to the Commons.
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