London Mayor Boris Johnson said he’s not intending to make a bid to become U.K. Conservative Party leader after being quoted as saying last week that he missed being a member of Parliament.
“I have no such plans,” Johnson said in an interview today when asked to clarify whether he still has ambitions to lead the Tories. “Ever, now, whenever.”
Johnson, who’s favorite among Tory activists to succeed Prime Minister David Cameron as party leader, has hinted that he would be ready to do the job if called upon. He was quoted by the Financial Times last week as saying that “for the first time in years, I wished I was in Parliament” during last month’s debate over whether to take military action against Syria.
Johnson, who would have to return to Parliament as a lawmaker in order to run for the Tory leadership, has previously refused to rule himself out as a future head of the party. Cameron is currently trailing the opposition Labour Party in opinion polls and there is speculation he may face a leadership challenge if the Tories lose the 2015 general election.
Johnson made his comments in Middleton, on the outskirts of Manchester, the northern English city where the Tories are holding their annual party conference. The London mayor is scheduled to address the convention tomorrow morning.
A poll of 852 Conservative Party members carried out by YouGov Plc on behalf of Tim Bale, who teaches politics at Queen Mary, University of London, found 38 percent would vote for Johnson as their first preference, with Home Secretary Theresa May second with 18 percent.
Johnson made a lower-profile entrance to the Tory conference this year than in 2012. Last year he was greeted by ranks of photographers and crowds chanting “Boris, Boris” at Birmingham’s New Street station. Today he visited a factory that makes signage for London buses, part of a drive to show that the capital has created jobs elsewhere around the country.
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