Last week Boris Johnson finally confirmed politics’ worst kept secret, admitting he intends to stand at the General Election next May.
Despite previously describing being Mayor of London as the “greatest job in the world” Boris has had a change of heart, admitting over the weekend he simply became Mayor to “show what he could do” and “gain some administrative experience”.
With his sights now set on Downing St, Londoners could be forgiven for feeling distinctly short-changed by the part time Mayor’s decision.
It’s not only a snub to the Londoners who elected him but a question of honesty after promising to serve his full term and insisting that the job of mayor “cannot be combined with any other political capacity”.
Whilst Boris’ interests move on, it is Londoners who will pay the price. For the next two years their Mayor will be utterly distracted – first fighting an election campaign, then as an MP if he’s successful. All this at a time when Londoners – who are suffering a severe housing crisis, cuts to police and fire services, and some of the worst air quality in Europe –need and deserve strong leadership.
Boris’ admission that he saw the Mayoralty as nothing more than a stepping stone, to help build his public profile, is reflected by his record at City Hall. He has overseen 4,500 less police officers on our streets, closed 10 fire stations – jeopardising the safety of Londoners, has been responsible for a 43.7 per cent increase in bus fares and a 33.2 per cent increase in Tube fares; and presided over a severe housing crisis in the capital. Londoners deserve better than a part-time Mayor who is more concerned with his own political ambitions than leading their city.
In the event of getting elected back into the Commons in May 2015, we have two scenarios. If the Conservatives become the opposition, this will almost immediately trigger a leadership contest which undoubted Boris Johnson would throw his hat into the ring and become his dominant focus and concern when he is meant to be seeing out his final year as Mayor.
Alternatively, were the Conservatives get re-elected, Boris would no doubt seeks a seat in Cabinet again taking him away from what should be his day job.
Neither scenario serves the best interests of Londoners who will ultimately be the ones who suffer. Whilst Boris pursues his political ambitions, London will be left effectively mayorless. Sadly it now seems that is a sacrifice Boris Johnson is willing to make.
This has been published in this week’s edition of the West End Extra.