Political stardust

News that Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, will stand at the next election should warm the heart of every Tory voter, not just those in Uxbridge, the north London constituency with which his name has most closely been linked.

Mr Johnson’s talents are many. In the complex role of Mayor he has proved himself an astute administrator, championing the City and ensuring London’s status as a metropolis of global standing. As a communicator his gifts are unrivalled, allowing him to charm his way out of sticky situations and into the hearts of voters who would not normally consider themselves Tories. His personal ratings with ethnic minorities, for example, far exceed those of his party.

But in the immediate term, it is for his value as a heavy-hitter in the run-up to the election that he should be most appreciated. Mr Johnson has shown, in recent announcements on immigration and the EU, that he has the mettle to neutralise the threat to the Conservative Party from Ukip. Voters wavering between the two parties will be heartened to hear him note that Britain can thrive inside – or outside – a reformed EU. The same can be said for his remarks that Britain’s immigration controls, or lack of them, are “absurd”.

His talents have naturally led to speculation that Mr Johnson may in time seek the highest office – speculation that he dismissed again yesterday, praising David Cameron as “brilliant”. It is possible that the two men may eventually have less fond words for each other, if Mr Johnson does indeed want to become prime minister. But they have an election to win first.

It is for this reason that the Tory who has most reason to celebrate Mr Johnson’s return is Mr Cameron. For with the Mayor comes a little stardust. Like the greatest Brazilian footballers, he is known by a single name. And “Boris” is quite a player to summon on to the field as the match with Labour comes to its nail-biting conclusion.