London Mayor Boris Johnson won a seat in the U.K. House of Commons, taking a first step to a possible bid to succeed David Cameron as Conservative leader.
Johnson took 22,511 votes in the West London district of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, a Tory majority of 10,695 compared with 11,216 in 2010. Labour candidate Chris Summers came second with 11,816 votes.
Johnson’s victory in a seat held by the Tories since 1970 will strengthen speculation about a leadership bid. Cameron has said he won’t serve a third term as prime minister. Bookmakers make Johnson the favorite to take over, ahead of Home Secretary Theresa May and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.
“The people of Britain have finally spoken,” Johnson said in his victory speech. “They have decisively rejected any attempt to take this country back to the 1970s.”
Johnson, 50, whose shock of blond hair, tousled appearance and off-the-cuff remarks have made him one of Britain’s best-known politicians, has attracted support from beyond traditional Conservative Party spheres. His re-election as London mayor in 2012 bucked a national trend that had seen Labour gain popularity, while the Olympics in London the same year further enhanced his profile.
The journalist and former television presenter, who once represented Henley, west of London, announced his intention to return to Parliament last year. Johnson has said he plans to serve out his mayoral term, which ends in 2016.