The London Olympics have given Boris Johnson a popularity boost, according to a poll published on Monday.
The mayor has had a high profile in the run-up to the Games, earning cheers at Hyde Park when he slapped down some ill-judged remarks from US presidential candidate Mitt Romney over whether London was ready for the Olympics. His dulcet tones have also reminded commuters to get ready for the Games at various tube stations, much to the annoyance of some.
The opinion poll of 1,419 Conservative activists showed 32% back Boris as the favourite to succeed David Cameron as leader of the Conservative party, while chancellor George Osborne netted a mere 2% of votes. Of course, it’s far from the first time that Boris has been mooted as Tory leader — anyone familiar with some of the mayor’s more memorable quotes will recall his oft-repeated response:
“As I never tire of saying, my chances of becoming prime minister are only slightly better than being decapitated by a frisbee, blinded by a champagne cork, locked in a fridge or being reincarnated as an olive.”
And of course, not everyone agrees — Steve Richards in the Independent makes clear the skepticism surrounding a potential challenge by Boris to the Tory party leadership, pointing out that the mayor’s popularity is a by-product of national Olympics fever.
The mayor’s unbridled enthusiasm over the Olympics has made itself evident in a characteristic barrage of superlatives and similes, though his comparison of female beach volleyball contestants to river-dwelling mammals didn’t entirely meet with approval from all quarters. His flamboyant antics have also sparked fear in Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, who is set to receive the Olympic flag in the closing ceremony:
“He got the city into the mood of the Olympics and did great things. I’m just scared he’ll do something crazy when he hands over the flag.”
Photo by Rodents rule in the Londonist Flickr pool.