I’ve lost count of the number of column inches outlining a new low in relations between David Cameron and his long-time rival Boris Johnson. Every few months, Johnson says or writes something at odds with Cameron and official Conservative policy—whether it’s lowering the top rate of tax or calling for a tougher approach to the EU.
His latest opportunistic salvo comes against the backdrop of the riots:
“If you ask me whether I think there is a case for cutting police budgets in the light of these events, then my answer to that would be no. I think that case was always pretty frail, and it has been substantially weakened.” Thus spake Boris on Wednesday morning’s Today programme. It was a blatant piece of insurrection on Johnson’s part which has no doubt left Cameron furious.
The likelihood is the Mayor will quieten down for a bit, but it would be a mistake to under-estimate his ruthless ambition. For years Johnson tried to hide it by impersonating a character out of PG Wodehouse (I once witnessed him at a party conference event walking round the block in order to be late and ruffling his hair to look scruffy). But in recent months, he has been cultivating a more serious image, as he knows he must if he is ever to fulfill his real ambition to be prime minister.