UK & World News
Chance For Boris As Tory MP Stands Down
Boris Johnson has been handed a golden opportunity to make a spectacular Commons comeback in 2015 and launch a bid for the Tory leadership.
Veteran Tory MP Richard Ottaway, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, has announced he is to step down at the next election after more than 20 years.
There had already been strong speculation that Mr Ottaway, 67, would retire in 2015 and that London's flamboyant mayor would succeed him.
If he did, it would be a year before his current term as mayor ends.
The seat is ideal for Mr Johnson since it is inside Greater London and he would inherit a solid majority of nearly 16,000, leaving him well placed to stand for the Conservative leadership.
Although he has been coy about his intentions so far, most Tories do not expect him to stand for mayor for a third time in 2016 because he will be back in the Commons by then.
If he is elected in Croydon, he will be able to reject claims that he is doing two jobs by insisting he is speaking up for the people of Croydon and London as a whole in Parliament.
After a colourful and at times controversial career as a journalist, Mr Johnson was elected for the safe seat of Henley, succeeding Michael Heseltine, in 2001.
Coincidentally, Mr Ottaway served as Mr Heseltine's Parliamentary private secretary when Mr Heseltine was Deputy Prime Minister.
He has also been the Conservative Party's spokesman on London in the Commons.
After he was first elected mayor in 2008, Mr Johnson stood down as an MP.
But after his narrow victory over Ken Livingstone for a second time earlier this year he has been seen as the Tories' "king over the water".
His support among Tory MPs as a future leader has grown spectacularly since his re-election as mayor and he was greeted like a rock star at the Tory conference in Birmingham, when the party faithful were overcome by "Borismania".
As well as chairing the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr Ottaway has been vice-chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee and served on the Intelligence and Security Committee for five years.
He also chaired the All-Party Parliamentary London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Group.
He has been Croydon South MP since 1992.
Before that he was MP for Nottingham North from 1983 to 1987.
Announcing his retirement, Mr Ottaway, who has chaired the Foreign Affairs Committee since 2010, hinted that he would be happy to accept a peerage if it was offered.
"Today is far from the end of the road for me - there's plenty of important work to be getting on with in Parliament and in my constituency," he said.
"I will be working at full speed, right up to the general election when I hope David Cameron will be re-elected as Prime Minister of a Conservative government. He's the right man to be leading the party and the country."