Today’s Mail on Sunday reports that a civil war has broken out between Boris Johnson and George Osborne over allegations that the Chancellor lied about encouraging the Mayor to return to Parliament.
Supporters of Johnson claim that Osborne is mounting a dirty tricks campaign to ruin his hopes of becoming party leader, a job both men are extremely keen to hold.
The row began when Mr Osborne’s claim – to have personally encouraged Johnson to Parliament – was branded as “bull sh*t”. Also, supporters of the Mayor claim that Matthew Hancock, the Business Minister, is behind many of the negative attacks.
The Mail reports that one MP who is close to Johnson claimed Osborne was trying to trick him into running the Conservative campaign against UKIP, in the knowledge that it would undermine his leadership ambitions. But the MP also claimed that Johnson had not fallen into the trap.
The Osborne-Johnson rivalry has previously spilled over when both men travelled to China. The Mayor’s team claimed the Chancellor was trying to cut him out of key events.
The only MP to go on record was Nadine Dorres, who openly supports Mr Johnson. She said it was ‘inconceivable’ that any future Conservative Leadership contest did not include Boris Johnson.
Boris Johnson is generally accepted to have done well as Mayor of London, delivering projects such as the 2012 Olympics and the reintroduction of the famous ‘Route master’ bus.
He remains one of the most high profile Conservatives, but he avoids being tainted by unpopular government decisions as he is no longer an MP.
However, without a seat he is also ineligible to run, a problem that could still leave him out of any race.