London Mayor Johnson names target seat for parliament comeback

26th August 2014, Comments 0 comments

London Mayor Boris Johnson will bid to become a member of parliament in west London at next year's general election, his spokesman said Tuesday, raising the prospect of a future run at becoming prime minister.

Johnson, known for his unkempt shock of blond hair and frequent gaffes, hopes to be selected as the Conservative Party candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, a seat the party has held since 1970.

Many see the 50-year-old as a potential successor to Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, given his high profile and popularity with grassroots party members.

"I'm sure there will be plenty of excellent candidates and I hope very much to make my case to the association," Johnson told the Evening Standard.

Ray Puddifoot, leader of the local Hillingdon Council, confirmed that Johnson had submitted his candidacy.

"He rang me to say he has put his application in -- 'whacked it in' were his exact words," he told the Daily Telegraph.

If Johnson is selected for the seat, it would bring him within touching distance of a return to national politics after a seven-year gap.

He and Cameron are old rivals who attended the elite Eton College and Oxford University together.

The prime minister has welcomed Johnson's plans to return to parliament, saying: "I've always said I want my star players on the pitch."

Johnson has always publicly played down his chances of eventually becoming prime minister, saying they were about as good as those "of finding Elvis on Mars or my being reincarnated as an olive".

While he has a high international profile, several other leading Conservatives are also seen as strong contenders to succeed Cameron should he step down.

These include finance minister George Osborne and Home Secretary Theresa May.

- Dangled on zip wire -

Johnson revealed earlier this month that he wanted to return to the House of Commons, where he sat as a lawmaker between 2001 and 2008.

If he is elected, he intends to serve out his full term as mayor. This does not end until 2016, raising the prospect of him doing two jobs for his first year in parliament.

Uxbridge and South Ruislip is currently held by Conservative lawmaker John Randall, but he announced last month that he would not be seeking re-election.

The party said it expects around 100 members to bid for the candidacy, and that the winner will be announced on September 12.

His target seat neighbours international travel hub Heathrow Airport, which hopes to expand in order to deal with an ever-increasing number of passengers.

But Johnson has consistently argued against its plans for a third runway and has instead proposed an alternative new airport to the east of the city, dubbed "Boris Island" by the press.

His stance could appeal to local residents worried about the extra air traffic passing over their houses, but may put off those who depend on the airport for their livelihood.

As London mayor, his most high-profile success has been running the city during the 2012 Olympics.

He provided one of the Games' most iconic images when he was left dangling mid-air after being stuck on a zip wire waving two British flags in front of a watching crowd.

In recent weeks, Johnson has spoken out increasingly on national and international affairs.

On Monday, he called for strict new laws against British militants who go to fight in Syria and Iraq after the killing of US journalist James Foley, apparently by a man with an English accent.


© 2014 AFP

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