It was announced on Friday that Boris Johnson would be standing as the Conservative candidate for the constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip in the next general election. The current MP John Randall is due to retire next year from the seat which was created from two previous Tory strongholds in 2010. In a meeting with the press after the announcement the Mayor of London expressed his delight at being picked for the candidacy and said that the battle would be a tough one.
Boris Johnson has previous experience as an MP: before becoming Mayor of London in 2008 Boris spent 7 years as MP for Henley another Conservative stronghold in Oxfordshire. His likelihood of winning the seat is quite good. The seat and its predecessors were relatively safe seats for the Conservative Party with a majority of over 11,000 at the last election. This combined with the fact that Johnson has become an icon for the party in recent years due to his eccentric personality makes the likelihood of his victory higher; a poll taken last month whilst speculation was rife suggests that he could even add 10% to the majority that the Conservatives already enjoy.
Boris’ return to Westminster has caused many to question what this signifies for his future. Many have seen this as a sign that Johnson still has ambitions to become leader of the Conservative party in the future and perhaps Prime Minister. Some have even seen the announcement as one to directly undermine David Cameron’s leadership of the party. David Cameron had remarked earlier that he would welcome Boris’ return to Westminster, calling him one of his “star players”. Whatever the truth by putting himself in this position he has definitely strengthened the chances of this happening although when asked during interviews whether this was his eventual intention Boris reiterated that his concern for the moment would be to win over the people of Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
Should he win the seat at the next general election Boris will remain Mayor of London until the next scheduled mayoral election in 2016. Some have criticised this move as meaning that Boris will not be focusing enough on the people of London whilst he tries to fight for election and perhaps promotion within the Conservative party. But support for Boris has been quick from fellow Tory MPs including Nadine Dories. Although the idea of being Mayor and MP at the same time is not an unusual one – Ken Livingstone the previous Mayor of London from 2000 – 2008 was both for a year and therefore proved that it is possible to manage both loads.
One of the unsuccessful Tory candidates David Simmonds likened the challenge of taking on Boris Johnson to taking on Goliath but sent out a warning to Boris that David often has a good chance of winning such contests.
Although we won’t know the results until May the campaign is sure to be an interesting one considering Johnson’s past “gaffs” and general persona. An interest that can only be compounded by what Mr Johnson chooses to do with his parliamentary seat should he win it.