Prime minister praises strong campaign of mayor, who vows to dedicate next term to helping Londoners hit by tough times
David Cameron has said he is delighted by Boris Johnson’s victory, despite speculation the London mayor could mount a challenge to the Tory leadership.
The prime minister praised Johnson for running a strong campaign and said he had enjoyed backing his campaign for re-election.
The pair appeared together at City Hall after Johnson sought to end speculation that he might replace Cameron as the Conservative party leader.
Asked by the BBC Radio 4 Today programme’s Evan Davis if he would stand again for parliament, Johnson said he was dedicating himself to working for London and that people could “take it for granted” that he wouldn’t stand at the general election in three years.
“There’s no doubt Londoners are going through, and have been going through a tough time and it’s going to take a large amount of effort. I want to dedicate myself entirely to that,” he said.
Speaking at City Hall, Cameron said: “I think it was a very strong campaign by Boris. It was based on his record, on the excellent things he has done out there and I am delighted to congratulate him.
“It was a campaign the whole Conservative party got behind. I enjoyed campaigning for Boris but now what matters is working together for the good of London, as PM, as mayor, and that is exactly what we are going to do.”
But Tim Montgomerie, founder of the website ConservativeHome, which claims to represent grassroots Tory opinion, said Johnson could no longer be dismissed as a serious challenger for Cameron’s job.
“I think a few months ago people thought it was out of the question, that his personality was suited to that of London Mayor, but not of leader. But you have to get to a point when that view changes.
“I don’t think he can be dismissed – he’s got a great track record.”
Montgomerie, viewed by many Conservatives as one of the most influential Tories outside the cabinet, said he believed the timing might not be right for Johnson.
“He has committed to four more years and he would have to let Londoners down,” Montgomerie said. But he added: “Where there’s a will there’s a way.”
Johnson polled 1,054,811 votes to Ken Livingstone’s 992,273 in a contest that was much closer than experts had predicted.
Standing by Cameron’s side, the mayor said he hoped to continue working with the government to secure investment for London.
He added: “I think people were listening to what we had to say about taxes, getting rid of all sorts of unnecessary expenditure, putting it where people want to see it.”
He said the campaign was hard-fought and long, and was grateful for Conservative support.
“They did turn out in large numbers to help me but I think we were able to reach people across the city with a message that resonated with them in tough times.”
Speculation that Johnson may challenge for the Tory leadership has persisted despite repeated denials from the mayor.
Conceding defeat in the mayoral contest, even Livingstone appeared to back Johnson for the top Tory job.
“Whilst Cameron and Osborne are dragging the Tory party down to defeat in the rest of Britain, not only have you won another term, but I suspect this has also settled the question of the next Tory leadership election,” Livingstone told Johnson.