After calls for Boris Johnson to stand for the Tory leadership, could it happen before 2015?

Tim Montgomerie

Boris will become Tory leader before the next election if Conservative MPs conclude that they won’t keep their seats with David Cameron still in place. In such a circumstance, they’ll face a choice between almost certain political death and an almighty blonde-headed gamble. There are big practical obstacles to a Boris ascendancy but, if the Mayor of London can become an MP again within the next two years, speculation will reach fever pitch. Cameron has an 80 per cent chance of saving his leadership. He still beats Ed Miliband when voters are asked “who would make the best PM?”. Just as importantly, despite the cuts and recession, the Tories are marginally preferred as the best party of economic management. If the economy improves by 2014, Cameron will be safe. Otherwise the party may throw the Boris dice and embrace the Tory who has twice won in a city that normally votes Labour.

Tim Montgomerie is editor of the ConservativeHome website.

Alex Singleton

There is nothing more dangerous in politics than a reshuffle. Civil servants use such transitions to grab power, and government plans are blown off-course. So it would be reckless to get rid of David Cameron or George Osborne. After all, they are both vital to convincing the markets that Britain is solvent, and Osborne is doing one hell of a better job in Number 11 than his two predecessors. Despite this, everyone wants to give him a kicking over minor policies. What people forget is that the last Budget contained good plans, such as cutting corporation tax. Yes, more free market radicalism would be fantastic. But it doesn’t matter who’s in Number 10 or 11 because the politics of coalition are so restrictive. Boris Johnson would be a brilliant Tory leader: he would secure the Conservatives a thumping majority. But that’s not going to happen in this Parliament.

Alex Singleton is managing director of the Singleton Group.