BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron has given the go-ahead to Boris Johnson to return to the Commons at the next general election, before he has completed his second and final term as London's mayor.
The move would establish Mr Johnson, who won two standing ovations at the Conservative conference yesterday, as a leading contender to succeed Mr Cameron as leader.
The British capital's mayor has remained opaque about his plans, but Mr Cameron disclosed that they had discussed the possibility of Mr Johnson coming back as an MP in May 2015, a year before he leaves City Hall.
Mr Cameron said: "I've had this conversation with Boris and my message to him is 'you're a brilliant mayor of London, you've done a great job, you've got a lot more to give to public life, and it would be great to have you back in the House of Commons at some stage, contributing to public life'. But that's up to him, but I'll certainly be giving him a warm welcome."
Asked if he could return in 2015, Mr Cameron replied: "Absolutely, but that's a matter for him. It's his plan." Mr Johnson has been connected with a series of safe Conservative parliamentary seats which could provide a platform for his return to parliament. However, he has ruled out standing in Croydon South, where the Tory association will next week draw up a shortlist of possible candidates. The mayor yesterday admitted he was still "fudging" over whether he could return to the Commons in 2015, although he spoke last month of his regret at not being in the chamber in August when MPs debated military action in Syria. Mr Johnson was mobbed by activists and television crews in Manchester as he made his annual visit to the conference.
Previous barnstorming appearances by the mayor, with occasional swipes at coalition policies, have been widely interpreted as laying down a marker for his leadership ambitions.
But yesterday's address was broadly loyal, apart from an appeal to Chancellor George Osborne to cut stamp duty on property sales, which he warned was "stamping on the fingers" of those who want to get on the housing ladder.
Mr Johnson invited controversy by backing the complaint of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver that British youths would not work as hard or as long as the Eastern European immigrants who staff some of his restaurants.
He said the government needed to tackle the problems of welfare dependency, educational under-achievement and low self-esteem which hold some young Britons back from fulfilling their "vast and latent" potential. (© Independent News Service)