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If politics were an Olympic sport, would Boris Johnson get the gold medal? As he welcomes the world to London for a festival of corporatist hypocrisy and athletic achievement, the mayor is in the middle of running his own long-distance race, which he hopes will conclude with Boris crossing the finishing line in Downing Street and ascending the winner's podium on the steps of No 10.

Next stop No 10? For all their forced bonhomie, David Cameron (right) is suspicious of Boris Johnson's prime ministerial ambition (PA)

Ignore any claims made by Johnson that he has no intention or chance of becoming prime minister. In television interviews he now struggles to keep a straight face when he is asked the question. "I have as much chance as being reincarnated as an olive," he said in one. He goes on to quote Michael Heseltine claiming he "can foresee no circumstances" in which he would run for the top job. That was the cynical form of words Hezza used as he waited for the right moment to remove Margaret Thatcher. In reality, Boris is one of the most all-consumingly ambitious men of his generation and his denials are, to borrow his own colourful phrase, an inverted pyramid of piffle. 

There are sizeable hurdles in his way, of course. Some Tories and former colleagues are determined that Johnson should never win the race to be Conservative leader. Instead, they would like him to be for the high jump. "Shallow, duplicitous, selfish, sociopathic, scheming," says one usually generous-minded ex-colleague when I mention that I am writing this piece on Boris's prospects. I had asked him to define the man in five words. Another laughs and then comes up with: "Infuriating, lazy, funny, charismatic, brilliant."

But it is no longer only Boris who takes seriously the idea of Boris becoming Tory leader and prime minister. One sensible Tory donor muses: "Perhaps if Cameron does not get his act together we will go for the one with the hair. Boris has something special, he connects with people. He has star power."

A Tory colleague who rates him highly says that he has long thought of Boris's career as having five stages. "We are now on stage three. Stage four involves him being prime minister and in stage five he becomes president of the United States." (He was born in New York, when his father was a student.)

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May 29th, 2013
11:05 PM
Some people think Boris is great but in truth if is a bumbling loon.Can you imagine him as PM?What will the world leaders think of the UK when they meet this fool?They will laugh in his pudgy face and it will taint us all as useless imbeciles. What this country really needs is a straight talking, charasmatic leader with courage and integrity not this spineless creature who has sold the country down the river. Which brings me to the point that Boris and his ilk have systematically stripped this country of industry and made a packet sending it abroad,then blaming the populous!It begs belief and he should be held accountable and made to lower his head in shame and cast out. He is a traitor to the country. As for calling the UK workforce lazy?We were the best in the world,well trained and motivated.Ggs idea of an apprenticeship is at macdonalds. If he continues with this irrelevant rubbish ihe will only strengthen the far right. Remember Boris's stateman like,immortal one liner that changed the face of a nation,"ping pong's coming home". Lets eject this idiot once and for all and set ourselves free.

July 28th, 2012
9:07 AM
Well, for all that, just look at the alternative Prime Ministers: Osborne, Gove, Miliband. An energetic, highly intelligent maverick who can put a smile on peoples' faces doesn't seem too bad an idea.

Richard Blogger (@richardblogger)
July 27th, 2012
10:07 AM
So you're saying that Cameron only wants (at most) one and a half terms? That means that he's only a half-Blair. If Cameron loses the 2015 election (whether that is "lost" as in the 2010 election, or lost as in Labour gets a majority) the Tory party will go back to civil war. The "get Boris" campaign will be strong. After the shambles that is Cameron/Osborne my guess is that the party will go for someone seen as competent, and that can only be Hague or Hammond. The latter is more likely since he's already been tried and failed. However, I think Milliband has a lot to be scared of with Boris. Yes, Milliband will be well prepared for 2015 and Boris will just wing it. Yes, Milliband will have no skeletons but Boris will have cupboards full of them. The problem for Milliband is that Boris is his antithesis. Who would people want to go to the pub with or allow to kiss their baby? Milliband or Boris? Basically that is the more important question in people's minds when voting at a general election than who can get growth back.

Philip Arlington
July 25th, 2012
3:07 AM
Nothing that David Cameron does is convincing. Only those immersed in the naval-gazing world of Westminster could ever have imagined he would be an effective leader, but who else have they got? Michael Gove is as inept as the Chancellor, but lucky in that he has a less high profile job. The current system doesn't attract men and women of calibre, with the result that of all the top politicians are almost always under pressure due to their obvious inadequacy. Does anyone whatsoever truly benefit from this permanent shambles of a political culture?

Philip Arlington
July 25th, 2012
2:07 AM
There is no-one near the top of British politics that anyone with any sense would "trust with the mortgage" so that is a nonsensical argument against Boris's chances. As for Bulldog's comments about Boris not having a constituency, he won more personal votes than anyone else in British politics. If he can win London, he can win the whole of southern England. Add some rural constituencies elsewhere, and that is more than half of the UK.

Bulldog Driscol
July 5th, 2012
7:07 AM
Having Boris for PM is wishful thinking by the politically incorrect rugby players of yester-year. Bo-Jo is the last of the patrician Tories, educated, a classicist and a man of letters. As such he has no accessible constituency in modern politics. However his Wodehousian prose and humour has tremendous resonance with the cowed British public.

July 3rd, 2012
9:07 AM
"I have no idea what he believes in other than himself," says a prominent Conservative." Funnily enough that's exactly what could be said about one David Cameron.

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