Boris Johnson has ended speculation about his political future, confirming he will seek election to Parliament at next year’s General Election.
The Mayor said if elected he would see out his term as Mayor, which ends in May 2016.
By remaining at City Hall for the final year of his term Mr Johnson would be ignoring the results of a recent YouGov poll which showed a majority of Londoners thought he should stand down immediately if elected as an MP.
If Johnson stood down as Mayor before November 2015 it would trigger a Mayoral by-election costing London taxpayers around £12 million. Whoever was elected would have to face re-election in May 2016.
However if the Mayor quit City Hall after November 2015 the Deputy Mayor of London, currently Victoria Borwick, would take charge until the May 2016 election.
By serving as both Mayor and an MP for a year Mr Johnson will be following in the footsteps of his predecessor Ken Livingstone who remained in Parliament until 2001 after winning the inaugural Mayoral contest in 2000.
Under provisions introduced in 2007, Mr Johnson would lose two-thirds of his Mayoral salary when he entered parliament.
Confirmation of Johnson’s personal plans opens the way for the Conservative party to seek a new candidate for 2016 and allows potential runners to declare their ambitions.
Commenting on Mr Johnson’s announcement, Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, said: “The Mayor was elected to serve a four year term. He has recently set out long term plans for London, including only last week a long term infrastructure plan for the capital.
“Sadly today the Mayor has revealed that he has no ambition or desire to even begin to implement these plans. If he returns to Westminster he will be relegating being Mayor of London to his second part-time job.”
Len Duvall, Leader of London Assembly Labour Group, said: “This decision is a snub to Londoners. Boris has previously stated that being Mayor of London was the “greatest job in the world”. However, it is clear he no longer thinks that.
“Boris will be utterly distracted for the next two years – fighting an election campaign then as an MP, if successful. All this at a time when Londoners – who are suffering a severe housing crisis, cuts to police and fire services, and some of the worst air quality in Europe – will need strong leadership most.
“It is clear that Boris saw the Mayoralty as a nothing more than a stepping stone to help build his public profile and his record at City Hall reflects that: he has overseen 4,500 less police officers on our streets, closed 10 fire stations – jeopardising the safety of Londoners, has been responsible for a 43.7% increase in bus fares and a 33.2% increase in Tube fares; and presided over a severe housing crisis in London.
“Londoners deserve better than a part-time Mayor who is more concerned with his own political ambitions than leading their city.”
Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said the Mayor’s decision to re-enter parliament next year was “disappointing”.
He commented: “London business needs and deserves a Mayor giving their undivided attention to the problems facing the capital.
“Solving the chronic undersupply of housing that is pricing out skilled workers, delivering a reliable, frequent and expansive transport network fit for a thriving global city, and fighting for the capital to have more autonomy over its own finances and economic future is a full time job.”
Potential Labour candidates for Mayor have also commented.
Dame Tessa Jowell, who has led most recent polls on the public’s preferred Labour runner, said: “I wish Boris Johnson well and don’t underestimate the difficulty of his decision.
“But between now and 2016 Boris Johnson’s first overriding obligation is to London and Londoners and we will continue to hold him to account on the degree of his commitment and effectiveness.”
“Addressing speculation about her own ambitions for the Mayoralty, Dame Tessa added: “There will be much speculation about candidates; Labour, Tory and other parties. I will certainly be taking this time to prepare my potential offer to Londoners, but this is not a time for formal decision or declaration.”
Fellow contenders Sadiq Khan and David Lammy said:
— Sadiq Khan MP (@SadiqKhan) August 6, 2014
Boris Johnson is already a part-time mayor, now will be even more of one. Always cared more about his ambitions than #London's problems.
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) August 6, 2014