David Cameron's relationship with Boris Johnson "is at breaking point", according to the New Statesman.
An article in the lefty mag breathlessly reports that the old Etonians have fallen out over three key policy pledges: Crossrail, the Thames estuary airport, and an expansion of Mayoral powers. Cameron has refused to agree that these will be included in his party's manifesto. Giddy with the scent of ructions high in the Tory camp. the Statesman claims Johnson is aiming at the top seat in the party, and that Cameron faces an agonising battle to keep him at City Hall instead of claiming a safe seat and mounting a leadership challenge down the line.
Yet Dave Hill's having none of it. He wrote yesterday in The Guardian that Johnson's "do-little" Mayoring of London is offering the Tories invaluable lessons in how not to act once in power, and in any case his 14 months as the party's highest elected official have largely followed Cameron's "caring Conservative" line. He expands on the theme today, arguing that Cameron has more reason to thank Boris than be angry at him. Word directly from the blond's mouth is that all such rumour is nonsense, and that everything's jake between Dave and Boz.
We can be pleased about such fine relations between two old chums, but there's still the thorny matter of those campaign pledges, and in particular, Crossrail. With both parties under pressure to make more cuts than a Nicky Clarke salon during prom week, it now seems that the long-planned cross-London route is seen by shadow Chancellor George Osborne as less than a main priority. Probed by the Standard, a party spokesperson confirmed that there was "no change" to the party position that Crossrail is "a very important piece of infrastructure for London". In the world of ringing endorsements, that's more Nokia phone than Big Ben. Is that the sound of a champagne cork hitting the ceiling we hear over at Simon Jenkins' house?