So Boris Johnson will after all be putting himself forward to become the Tory candidate for Mayor of London.
Ever since David Cameron and Francis Maude announced that the Conservative Candidate would be chosen through a public primary the failure to attract a high profile candidate has been a running embarrassment for the party which Mr Johnson’s announcement finally ends.
Johnson’s public profile certainly gives him a credibility not enjoyed by many of the other declared candidates however he has two weaknesses which Labour’s Ken Livingstone is almost certain to exploit.
Firstly his eventual last minute entry in the race can be made to suggest a lack of genuine interest on his part and secondly – and perhaps more damaging – the public knowledge that he’s not David Cameron’s first choice.
In the absence of a candidate the Labour Party have been running a shadow campaign, in April Livingstone declared:
“It will be pure hypocrisy when the Tory leadership declares they have full confidence in their candidate because their leader has actually spent months trying to find an alternative and clearly has no confidence in them at all.”
On the seemingly safe assumption that he wins the primary Boris needs to have clear, intelligible responses to these charges from day one.
For his part Cameron has to reconcile himself to Johnson’s need of a free reign over policy and campaigning – as Frank Dobson’s lacklustre 2000 campaign proved being seen as the leader’s stooge isn’t an electoral asset in London.