Boris Johnson is again the focus of speculation setting him up as a leadership opponent to David Cameron. The Mayor’s office confirmed that Zac Goldsmith discussed handing over his Richmond constituency, but the Independent insists Boris has an eye on his old seat in Henley.
The Zac Goldsmith story is all about airports: the MP says he’ll resign as a Conservative if his party goes ahead with a third runway at Heathrow and we all know Johnson wants a new airport in the Thames Estuary. Presumably in an attempt to stick two fingers up to the Prime Minister, Goldsmith offered Boris the chance to come in if he stepped down but the Mayor wasn’t interested. Understandable, perhaps; the Tories won Richmond by only 4,091 votes in 2010 – though their nearest rival was the Lib Dem Susan Kramer, so who knows what voters will do at the next election.
The Independent, however, has Boris either fulfilling his term as Mayor and standing in a by-election in 2016, or going back to Henley where he served as MP 2001-2008. It’s a much safer seat but the incumbent, John Howell, hasn’t said anything about standing down. But the main point about the Henley and Richmond plans is that they’re seen as a launching pad for Boris’s leadership ambitions. This is a point not lost on Downing Street, which said
“We will see what happens the next time he comes around with the begging bowl. He might need us one day.”
One of Boris Johnson’s 9 Point Plan manifesto pledges was that, as a Conservative, he was best placed to secure “a better deal for London from Number 10″. Pissing off the man who lives there is going to make that promise a lot harder to keep. We’d rather the Mayor placed the city above his personal ambitions, thanks.
In other Boris news, he’s appointed his old mate Veronica Wadley to a Mayoral Advisor position (PDF). You may remember Wadley as former editor of the Evening Standard during the bitterly fought 2008 election, and the end of whose regime prompted the paper’s “Sorry” campaign. Wadley was also parachuted into a top job at Arts Council England after the Mayor insisted on her appointment despite her not being considered the best person for the role by the rest of the panel.
Wadley will be City Hall’s “Team London, Volunteering, Charities and Sponsorship” adviser on a £95k pa salary, £25k a year more than the other paid Adviser listed on the london.gov.uk website (that’s Matthew Pencharz, advising on environment and politics). Wadley has said she won’t take a salary for the next 12 months; after that her appointment will cost taxpayers £118,655 a year.
Following on from the Olympics and Paralympics London has a team of brilliant volunteers in the form of Games Makers and London Ambassadors, and it does make sense to try to harness their experience for the future, but we’re unsure how much of Wadley’s career as a journalist or her 30-days-a-year role at the Arts Council qualifies her for the job.