By Matthew Barrett
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A strange combination of remarks by Boris Johnson recently. First he flip-flopped on an in/out European referendum, saying last night that he now supports a position far more like that of David Cameron.
Then today he half-toed the line on a UKIP pact. He said the public had had enough of pacts and coalitions. So in one sense he backs the CCHQ line, but also, by implication, criticised the current coalition.
The third remark came on Boris' trip to India promoting London as a global hub for business. He said:
"In interviews ahead of a speech to prospective students at Amity University, the equivalent of Oxford or Cambridge, Mr Johnson said he was worried the "mood music" from Whitehall was putting the very best off applying. … "The policy on visas is, in my view, sending out the wrong signal. There are so many stipulations that we are starting to lose business to Australia, America and Canada." … "It's a great idea to have a London that is open to that kind of business. I am saying to Government 'Don't do things that is going to cause unnecessary alarm and prejudice against the UK'.""
This isn't a new stance by Boris – indeed, the Mayor of London has had a liberal immigration policy for the duration of his mayoralty. However, his quick-fire combination of pro-Downing Street (or perhaps more directly, pro-business/the City), half-pro-Coalition and anti-Conservative-policy statements will raise eyebrows.