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Boris dismisses leadership reports

Published 26/04/2015

Prime Minister David Cameron (right) and mayor of London Boris Johnson on the election campaign trail
Prime Minister David Cameron (right) and mayor of London Boris Johnson on the election campaign trail

Boris Johnson has dismissed as "nonsense" reports that Tory donors are eager for him to take over the Conservative leadership in the wake of a failing re-election campaign.

The London mayor insisted a Conservative majority was "not so very far from our grasp" at the General Election in 11 days time.

The Sunday Times reported investment manager Peter Hall and Hugh Osmond, the Pizza Express entrepreneur, both of whom who have given significant donations to the Conservatives, were looking to Mr Johnson in a post-David Cameron future after an "utterly cynical" campaign.

Senior Tory sources dismissed the remarks as a repetition of similar claims by the same men three years ago.

Speaking to the BBC One Andrew Marr Show, Mr Johnson said: "This is nonsense and absolutely trivial by comparison with the choice this country has to make in 11 days time.

"This country has to make up its mind about whether to go forward with what I think has been a very distinguished Conservative-led government that has turned the economy around, that picked up a colossal mess in 2010, and has actually put Britain back on its feet.

"The risk to our country is that Labour would in concert with the SNP take it in profoundly the wrong direction."

Mr Johnson said he felt people would "look at the reality" of the SNP seeking to break up the UK while in government and find it "deeply alarming".

He said: "I think it is the wrong way for the country to go.

"I hope people will listen to this cautionary note we are striking. There is a symmetry - we are saying the economy is going gangbusters, we have got more people in employment, there is the second fastest growing economy in the G7, things are really turning around, why would we want to throw that away?

"There are unnecessary risks in this Labour-SNP (agreement). I don't think we are in any way imperilling the union - the people who want to imperil the union, because that is what their party is called, are the Scottish National Party."

The Tory mayor, who would put the Tories on top in the opinion polls were he already leader according to one YouGov poll out today, at one point attacked interviewer Andrew Marr as a "lefty BBC journalist" during questioning on the economy.

Mr Johnson made a point about the "economy going gangbusters" prompting Mr Marr to make a point about "gangmasters".

Mr Johnson later described Mr Marr as a "distinguished political journalist".

Mr Marr opened the programme with a correction and an apology for last week wrongly suggesting Mr Cameron's favourite sport was fox hunting.

In remarks published by The Guardian, Mr Hall retracted his criticism.

He said: "This week I was interviewed by a Sunday Times journalist. Some comments I made appear in an article in today's paper.

"I regret making those comments and apologise to all for this unconstructive intervention.

"Just to be clear: 1. I am an absolute nobody in politics. 2. I want the Conservative party to win the election and think it has a chance of doing so. 3. The government has done a good job in very difficult circumstances. 4. David Cameron is a better prime minister than I think Boris is likely to be be if he ever becomes prime minister. 5. I will shut up for now."

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