4.30pm: And that seems to be just about it for the day – we all expected to be talking mostly about the EU today but instead the topic is the next leader ofthe Conservative Party. Boris is never predictable – but would we want him any other way? Thank you for reading.
3.15pm: Joining the ranks of MPs welcoming the return of the blond bombshell is Zac Goldsmith:
Translation: No, I won’t be standing aside to give him a seat.
2.40pm: It’s notable in itself that the Tory MP Twittersphere hasn’t been stuffed full of tweets about Boris, but here are a few:
1.55pm: Labour appear to have settled on a line – they can’t prevent Boris returning so they are using the news to make a row about the London Mayoralty, presumably in the hope of avoiding a third humiliation in a city they consider their own turf. They point to his election pledge not to serve as an MP and Mayor at the same time (though Ken Livingstone of course did so), and the New Statesman has compiled a list of 17 times when Boris denied intending to do so.
How will Bozza shake off this issue? Well, Uxbridge is a London constituency which would at least avoid the charge of complete abandonment. He may point to the specifics of the pledge which were to “lead [Londoners] out of recession, bring down crime and deliver the growth, investment and jobs that this city so desperately needs” – at the time he said that couldn’t be done while wearing any other hats, he may now conclude he has successfully achieved it all so he can be an MP after all.
Alternatively, he could always claim that another of his election pledges – opposing the third runway, for example – is more important to Londoners’ lives than which jobs he has, and that it is a fight he can only fully prosecute from the green benches.
It’s certainly an awkward about turn, but it wouldn’t be the first time he has managed to shimmy out of a fix in a flurry of hair-ruffling.
1.20pm: The Huffington Post has spoken to Cllr Raymond Puddifoot, leader of Hillingdon Council which covers Uxbridge, about the possibility of Boris succeeding Sir John Randall:
“The process [in Uxbridge] is moving at a fair pace.”
The candidate will be confirmed in the second week of September and “if Boris is interested, he now has to make his application fairly quickly,” said the council leader, who sits on the Tories’ five-member candidate selection panel for the constituency. “We’re going to be shortlisting around 5 September.”
Puddifoot said the mayor of London has “been a good friend to us, as a borough and to this particular constituency. He does know the area and does come out here.”
He added that Johnson would be “one of the frontrunners but we don’t know who the other candidates will be”.
It’s worth remembering that the last anyone heard, Boris wasn’t on the candidates’ list – meaning he will have to go through a PAB to be able to apply for the Uxbridge selection. Presumably he’ll be filling out the forms ASAP.
12.55pm: A couple of swift reminders of where the polls stand on Boris. Here’s a ComRes poll from June which found him to be the most popular politician in the country by quite some margin:
And here is our latest monthly survey of party members on who they’d like to be the next Tory leader, with the Mayor in second place:
12.30pm: The first elements of reaction have come in over the last hour or so. Here’s a sample:
For Labour, Sadiq Khan (who is in no way hoping to be their candidate for London Mayor) goes on the offensive with regard to the capital:
“Boris Johnson’s announcement reveals how weak David Cameron is and how out of touch the Tories remain. 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…Today has also shown Londoners that, when they need a mayor prepared to address the big challenges facing their city, Boris Johnson’s priority is succeeding David Cameron rather than serving their interests.”
Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of Business for Britain, has this to say on the EU speech which formed the platform for Boris’ announcement:
“By putting ‘Brexit’ on the table, and arguing that Britain should leave the European Union if it fails to radically reform, Boris’s intervention in the EU debate was as significant as the Prime Minister’s original Bloomberg Speech. Sticking with the EU status quo would be a disaster for the British economy.”
11.50am: It’s always the case that the Mayor likes to play with expected political behaviour. This morning was another example of that approach – where most people would make a set-piece speech about the decision to stand, Boris knew the question would come and dropped it into the Q&A.
Don’t mistake that tactic for a sign of this being an off the cuff announcement, though – it’s clear Number 10 knew it was coming and The Spectator were sufficiently well-briefed that they commissioned tomorrow’s front cover on the topic:
This may also provide a hint as to a mystery from earlier in the week – who briefed the FT that Cameron was expected to stand down in 2018 if re-elected? We don’t know for sure but it seems a large coincidence that anonymous speculation on the timing of the leadership election should crop up in the same week as this news about a potential future leader.
11.30am: There we have it – Boris has just announced, at his much-heralded speech on the EU, that he “will try to find somewhere to stand in 2015″. We’ll be bringing you all the reaction and analysis as the story develops on this live blog
As Paul argued yesterday, he had to get on with it or not do it at all, so it’s pleasing to see he has accepted the logic – particularly as our survey found that most party members want him back in the Commons.
Also mulled by Paul was the possibility of the Mayor seeking selection for Uxbridge, which is now being touted universally.
You can watch the announcement here.
This is the Prime Minister’s reaction: