Features

For Boris, choosing the right seat will only be half the battle

9 August 2014

9:00 AM

9 August 2014

9:00 AM

Boris Johnson is to stand as an MP in 2015 — but where? In the next few weeks, his secret parliamentary campaign team (and there is one) expects him to pick his constituency. The Tories need a decision by the beginning of September, as an announcement any closer to the party conference will overshadow David Cameron’s own plans to talk about the manifesto, rather than watch hopelessly as cameras and journalists trail after Boris, asking the same question over and over again.

Uxbridge, where former deputy chief whip John Randall is standing down, is the favourite, with a 11,216 majority. The local association says it will make a decision in mid-September. Boris has promised to see his second mayoral term to its close in 2016, and Uxbridge would certainly help him do that, as it is at the end of a Tube line. But other seats are in play, too. His agents in Parliament say all those being considered would be compatible with him continuing to serve as Mayor.

Other seats include Hornchurch and Upminster: the current MP Dame Angela Watkinson is 72 and her 16,371 majority looks pretty cosy. In Hertsmere, the local association booted out its sitting MP, James Clappison, this summer, apparently for nothing more egregious than that he wasn’t very glamorous. The word in Hertsmere is that the local Tories want a higher-profile figure to defend the Conservatives’ 17,605 majority than Clappison, who was very good at attending constituency events, but an unknown on the national stage.


Boris is, of course, the opposite — although Hertsmere Conservatives should be careful what they wish for, as someone does still need to turn up to those thankless constituency events every once in a while, and the Mayor of London will not have the same amount of free time at his disposal as unglamorous Clappison.

He could also take the place of party grandees in safe seats such as Sir George Young’s North-West Hampshire (majority 18,583, but already selected for Boris’s deputy, Kit Malthouse), or Zac Goldsmith’s seat in Richmond Park (which has a slightly hairier 4,091 majority). Sir Peter Tapsell once said he was keeping his Louth and Horncastle seat ‘warm for Boris’ to sweep up the 13,871-strong lead, but the commute to London might be a bit of a stretch for a serving directly elected Mayor of London, and a candidate is already in place. Once Andrew Lansley’s special international role in public service — that he was promised as compensation for not being sent to Brussels as the UK’s EU commissioner — is agreed, South Cambridgeshire could be another distant safe seat, with 7,838 votes over the next largest party.

But whichever constituency Boris plumps for, and however compatible it is for him to continue to serve as Mayor, he will still be breaking a clear promise that he made during his mayoral campaign: ‘I made a solemn vow to Londoners to lead them out of recession, bring down crime and deliver the growth, investment and jobs that this city so desperately needs. Keeping that promise cannot be combined with any other political capacity.’

Boris wants to be Tory leader, and to become Tory leader he needs to give a number of his more sceptical parliamentary colleagues the impression that they can trust him. Explaining how he hasn’t broken that campaign promise will be far trickier than choosing which seat to stand in — and could be far more important in deciding whether he really gets a shot at the top job.

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  • Archibald Heatherington

    “But whichever constituency Boris plumps for, and however compatible it is for him to continue to serve as Mayor, he will still be breaking a clear promise that he made during his mayoral campaign: ‘I made a solemn vow to Londoners to lead them out of recession, bring down crime and deliver the growth, investment and jobs that this city so desperately needs. Keeping that promise cannot be combined with any other political capacity.’”

    As he’s already kept that promise, I see no issue in his now combining the mayoralty with a constituency job. He never said he WOULDN’T be an MP as well, just that he’d have to carry out his promises first.

    • Mynydd

      “I made a solemn vow to Londoners to lead them out of recession” The country was led out of recession by Mr Brown/Darling in 2010.
      Nice one Mr Johnson, double wage and double pension, the only thing left is to decide who gets a lordship.

  • Spectre

    He would be a disaster: too liberal and selfish (but I repeat myself).

  • Nick

    Why does nobody mention Bexhill and Battle, which is up for grabs following Greg Barker’s hissy fit that “if I’m not going to be a Minister then I’m not going to be an MP”? 12,880 majority and full of matrons who would swoon for Boris.

    • Kennie

      Is it just coincidence that Hague announces his retirement from what is considered a safe seat (Richmond) and a few days later buffoon Boris announces his intention to become an MP? For Richmond, a candidate pretending to be Eurosceptic is required, hence Johnson’s “speech” last week to highlight his new-found euroscepticism.
      Maybe Hague has seen what EU is really like in his dealings with Ashton etc ref Ukraine and has now become really eurosceptic. Because of that, he no longer wants to be in call-me-Dave’s team of europhiles.

  • Duncan Dunnit

    The man is a disgrace. He came to power as mayor of London…. He gets an intern (student or trainee who works, sometimes without pay, in order to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification) he gets an intern and she the has his baby. Would this have happened were he not mayor of London? Were Boris an MP or pm he has already proven he may take advantage of another vulnerable female and let down his wife and open himself up to outside persuasion through his lifestyle. Boris is not fit to be an MP and is a liability to this country.

  • saffrin

    Glasgow Boris, try Glasgow.

  • Binding&Hoche

    Basically, you’d be voting to elect his dad…. like Ray Allen and Lord Boris

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