Boris Johnson today refused to rule out seeking to become Conservative Party leader while serving as Mayor of London. The Mayor previously pledged to serve out his second term in full, stating that the Mayoralty could not “be combined with any other political capacity.”
Under questioning from Tom Copley AM at today’s Mayor’s Question Time, Boris was asked to publicly confirm that if elected as an MP next May he would not, whilst Mayor, accept a Cabinet post or run for Leader of the Conservative Party if the position became vacant. The Mayor refused to rule out the prospect, arguing that he would not answer hypothetical questions.
Copley argued that if elected, Boris should only serve as a backbench MP until the end of his term as Mayor of London (due to expire in May 2016), as the time needed to devote to leading a political party would be incompatible with remaining Mayor.
Commenting on his exchange with the Mayor, Labour Londonwide Assembly Member Tom Copley said:
“Being an MP is one thing. Taking a Cabinet post or running for the leadership of the Conservative Party are quite different. Both require an immense amount of time and energy and would be entirely incompatible with remaining London Mayor. I gave the Mayor the opportunity to be straight with Londoners for once, and to show his commitment to this city by ruling out going for the Conservative leadership or a Cabinet post while also Mayor. He refused this opportunity.
“If Londoners wanted an insight into the Mayor’s motives, this is surely it. When he stood down as an MP in June 2008 following his election as Mayor he said: "this job, here in City Hall, is simply too big, and it is growing all the time". Yet now he is refusing to guarantee that he would only serve as a backbencher while also Mayor.
“Boris has already broken his pledge not to run for Parliament, and now he is refusing to rule out running for the Conservative leadership at the same time as being London Mayor. It is yet another snub from a man who has grown used to breaking his promises to Londoners.”
1. Tom Copley is a London-wide Labour member of the London Assembly.
2. A webcast of today’s session will shortly be available online here.
3. The Mayor had previously told the Evening Standard that he would not entertain joining the Cabinet until his City Hall term ends in 2016.
4. Johnson's final appearance as MP, BBC News, 4 June 2008.