Boris Johnson will not fight key London seat at 2015 election, it emerges

The dinner and subsequent photographs prompted concern amongst Mr Cameron’s team about a potential leadership bid from Mr Johnson or Mr Gove.

It is understood that that prompted Mr Gove to pass on details about Mr Johnson’s confirmation that he will not stand in Croydon South.

That was then interpreted as being a blanket commitment by Mr Johnson in a column in the Spectator magazine.

Both Mr Johnson and Mr Gove are considered as potential successors to Mr Cameron and the pair have formed a strong friendship in recent years.

Mr Gove is said to occasionally text Mr Johnson when he is stuck in traffic in London to jokingly complain about the state of the capital’s roads.

Mr Johnson has repeatedly said he intends to serve his full second term as Mayor of London.

Rumours have circulated in Westminster that the Mayor wants to return to Parliament in 2015 before taking over from Mr Cameron.

However, Mr Johnson has regularly said he will not attempt to become Prime Minister.

Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said: “The Mayor was elected last year to serve a second four-year term. That’s what he has said he would do and that’s what he is doing.

“What he is determined to do is to help return a Conservative government in 2015. The best way to do that is to continue to promote business and drive jobs and growth in London, something that helps the whole UK economy.”

A spokesman for Michael Gove said: “We don't comment on leadership stories.”

Boris Johnson ambushed by protesters

Unite union protesters can be seen shouting abuse and surrounding Boris Johnson's 4x4 vehicle outside the DP World in Stanford-le-Hope, Thurrock, in an attempt to get the Mayor of London to speak to them.

The 20 demonstrators, who are demanding that the port allows union representation, try and stop the Mayor's vehicle after his visit to show his support for the new port's logisitics park.

"Come on Boris, have a word," they can be heard shouting.

One union member tries to get on the front of the vehicle but security guards clear the way for the car.

Throughout the confrontation Mr Johnson can be seen sitting passively in the vehicle before the car speeds back to London.

Mo’s breaking records, but other migrants are breaking the law

It was a scandal, she said; it was going to be damaging for race relations; and what, she wanted to know, was I doing about it? She was a barrister, she added, as if I wasn’t already apprehensive enough. As every politician knows, you cannot possibly hope to win in a position like this — the whole crowd listening as some well-spoken and well-educated woman decides to give you what for – and especially if she is armed with a lethal-looking glass of sangria.

“Er, I haven’t actually seen the posters,” I ventured, which was true — though I had been made vaguely aware of the controversy. That wasn’t good enough, she snapped. I should be speaking out, she said, witheringly, and so on and so forth. After about 10 rounds of pummelling, I was able to escape by promising to have a look at the offending propaganda, and to make up my own mind.

Well, I have — or at least, I have studied them online. The tone is certainly blunt. The message is uncompromising. “Go home or face arrest,” says the Home Office to illegal immigrants, in words that have even offended the tender sensibilities of Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip.

I suppose it could have been more gently drafted. How about: “Illegal immigrant? Worried about being arrested? Need help getting home? We can help! Just text HOME to 78070 and we will act as your personal travel agent.” That might have at least sounded a bit friendlier — but I wonder whether it would have appeased my angry friend with the sangria. As far as I could tell, she objected to the whole concept of urging illegal immigrants to do the right thing.

She seemed to think it wrong and downright racist even to point out that they were breaking the law. On that point I am afraid I have to disagree. Illegal immigrants have every opportunity to make their case to remain in Britain, and we have courts full of eloquent lefty lawyers — like, I very much suspect, my sangria-charged friend — taking prodigious sums of taxpayers’ money to vindicate the human rights of their clients.

Such is the ingenuity of these lawyers that all government strategies to deal with these illegals have so far failed. Indeed, we already have a de facto amnesty for all illegal immigrants who have been able to stay here for a long time. Ask the Home Office how many illegal immigrants have been deported, after being here for more than 10 years. The number is tiny. For most hard-working and otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants there is virtually no chance that they will be deported — and yet they cannot pay tax, cannot take part in the legal economy, and certainly cannot run for their country.

It is certainly not racist to point out this absurdity, since illegals come from all ethnic groups. It is not anti-immigrant to point this out, since illegals make a nonsense of the efforts of other immigrants to do the right thing and secure leave to remain. One way or another illegals need to regularise their position, and preferably to pay taxes like everyone else.

This poster campaign is unlikely, in itself, to solve the problem that expanded so massively under the last Labour government. But you surely can’t blame the Coalition for trying to enforce the law.

Boris unveils ‘big, blue bird’ in Trafalgar Square

"I will not lapse into double entendres and ask how long this wonderful creature will 'stay up' in the square", the Mayor joked to the crowd, as he announced the arrival of the "big, blue... bird."

The fourth plinth remained empty between 1841 and 1999, and recently has been used to showcase modern sculptures.

It has been suggested that the reason for the long delay in choosing a permanent sculpture for the plinth is that it will be used for a commission of the Queen riding a horse. The speculation was backed up by former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who earlier this year commented: "The understanding is that the fourth plinth is being reserved for Queen Elizabeth II."

German and Italian banks should move to UK if FTT introduced, says Boris Johnson

The Mayor of London said that banks across the Eurozone were likely to flock to the UK if the European Union went ahead with the new charge, which would tax trading by financial institutions.

"I would advise German, Italian and Spanish banks to move their HQs here to London so that they can escape the tax on their operations around the world and as for the French, they are already here," said Mr Johnson.

The Mayor has been a critic of the measure, which has also been challenged by the British government.

Industry estimates suggest the tax could raise more than £10bn, however banks have warned that it will lead to higher trading costs for customers and less liquid markets.

Among the biggest losers could be pensioners, who will face higher charges on their funds, costing them hundreds of pounds in lost income.

Supporters of the tax have countered that the funds raised could be used to help developing countries and support domestic welfare programmes.

Boris Johnson on the London Olympics, the greatest show on earth

At last we were circling over a grey Cornish landscape, and as we came into land at RNAS Culdrose I knew it was going to be all right. We could see the size of the crowds – not the local dignitaries, but members of the public who were pressed up against the perimeter fence. As Seb Coe and David Beckham carried that flame down the steps, I heard the cheers – and for nine weeks of that amazing torch relay, the excitement continued to build.

I think Seb understood it better than the rest of us in London, because he was often out there with the crowds as the torch moved around Britain. We were lost in what seemed to be an intensifying nightmare of technical problems. Every day we would talk before breakfast on a conference call – the mayoralty, Locog, TfL, the Met – and I hope the CIA never release the transcripts of those conversations, because they were sometimes beyond satire.

One day we were told that the M4 bridge from Heathrow was about to collapse, and that a key section of the Olympic route network might have to be abandoned. The next day the bus drivers decided to go on strike. Then the taxi drivers got in on the act and blockaded the city – one of them actually parked his vehicle on Tower Bridge, handed the keys to a police officer and jumped off.

Then we had the mystery of the missing 5,000 security guards who seemed to have found more exciting things to do than turn up to the Olympics. I remember one morning when two security guards did deign to appear – and announced that they had a bomb, a scare that miraculously never found its way into the papers. Then there was the panic about the weather, and at one stage the forecast for the opening ceremony was so dodgy that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport decided to buy 80,000 plastic ponchos. Presumably they are in a warehouse somewhere like in a warehouse space rental rates in Austin Tx. As the world began to descend on London, our apprehension continued to mount.

One Locog driver missed the entrance to the Olympic Park and took a team of American athletes half way to Southend. Then the papers decided that the whole thing was going to be a frost, and that some perfectly reasonable mayoral Tube announcements had driven people out of London; and for a day or so, I admit that I gave in to the same belief. What if we had spent billions on the biggest party in the world, and nobody came?

Then the flame came back to London, and you could feel the Olympomania spreading like crackling gorse; and on the night of the opening ceremony David Beckham drove it in a speedboat downriver to the park, and it lit up Thomas Heatherwick’s beautiful cauldron. And after that opening ceremony – or at least by the middle of the first week, when British medals began to trickle in – it was clear that the whole thing was going to be huge, much bigger than we had ever imagined, much the biggest thing we had ever taken part in. For the rest of that summer, everything failed spectacularly to go wrong. The transport system functioned superbly, and showed the world how mass transit systems were opening up east London as never before.

The athletes of Team GB and Paralympics GB achieved the astonishing feat of coming third in the global medals table. The weather was broadly excellent. The volunteers captured the imagination of the whole country, and people would break into cheers at the very mention of their names.

It all went so well, in fact, that you might be tempted to conclude that we could not have gone wrong; that we were doomed to succeed. Nothing could be further from the truth. A year on from the Games, it is more vital than ever that we learn the real lesson of the London Olympics – that they were the result of superb and meticulous planning.

It was an effort that brought together public and private sector, and that went beyond party and beyond government, and that went on for as much as a decade.

As soon as I was elected Mayor in 2008 I was embroiled in the Olympics, and it rapidly became clear that this was a special kind of project. It wasn’t just that the calibre of the executives was superb – Paul Deighton and Seb at Locog, David Higgins and John Armitt at the ODA. It was also clear to me that everyone was motivated by a zeal, an excitement, that you so rarely find in any kind of governmental activity.

It wasn’t just that the idea of the Games was thrilling in itself. It was also important that we knew what the deadline was – it was there in the logo! We knew exactly what success would look like and what failure would feel like.

We knew what the budget was, and we knew we would pay a grievous price for excess.

So people worked with an urgency and a passion that we need now to import to other aspects of British life. David Cameron has complained that central government can be agonisingly slow in getting things done – and he is right. Look at the dither and disaster of our national strategy for energy supply, where we are now in the humbling position of having to beg the French to help us build nuclear reactors.

Look at the torturous process of getting planning permissions for new homes, when there is abundant brownfield land in this country that could be developed. Think of the legal expense and complication that goes with any new piece of infrastructure, the billions and billions – literally – that are poured down the gullets of lawyers and consultants before any new track is laid. Look at our miserable and hopeless aviation strategy, where we are being left behind by our European rivals. If we are going to succeed in the global race we need that Olympic formula: a ruthless timetable, budgets that cannot be broken, the public and private sector working together on a clearly defined long term programme – and the threat of immortal pain and embarrassment for failure; and that is why it is such good news that Paul (now Lord) Deighton is at the heart of government, as infrastructure minister.

Yes, we need and will achieve an economic, sporting and volunteering legacy from the Games.

But we need to remember that energy and drive with which Seb and co did it. That is the real Olympic lesson, and that is the flame we need to keep alive.

Forget about trying to contain Germany – we should copy it

I see Germans frolicking in the delicious fresh water of the Wannsee, and Germans having meticulously organised picnics on the largest inland beach in Europe; German girls smoking roll-ups and handing round punnets of strawberries, and ancient German men, nut-brown, doing creaking callisthenics in the sun. The sky is blue and the foliage of the oaks so lush that the shade is almost black; and in an ecstasy of enthusiasm for the amazing city of Berlin I raise my glass, again, and think of my grandfathers. They both fought the Germans, you see, and I don’t think they would much mind me mentioning it now. In both of their cases, the experience was pretty awful. One grandfather was forced to crash-land his plane in Cornwall, with bad results for himself and his crew. The other man — on my mother’s side — saw his best friend drown when his destroyer was cut in two in the Mediterranean. For the rest of his life my maternal grandfather had a paramount piece of advice for the world. If we wanted peace, if we wanted happiness, then there was one thing we had to avoid.

“Whatever we do,” he used to tell me, “we must stop the Germans reuniting.” He wanted to keep Germany divided in two manageable chunks — East and West. This man was no Colonel Blimp. He was no foaming xenophobe: on the contrary, he was President of the Commission of the European Court of Human Rights, and yet he believed, on the principle of induction, that Germany could not be trusted. They did it in 1914; they did it in 1939; and given the slightest chance, he believed, they would do it again.

Two decades after unification, we have taken advantage of cheap air travel to show the kids the capital of a united Germany — the heart of what is by far the most important economic power in Europe — and I have to say that my learned grandfather has been proved wrong. Everything tells me that his anxieties were baseless, and that the reunification of Germany has been one of the greatest success stories of modern geopolitics. I look around modern Berlin, and I don’t see Prussian revanchism. I see not the slightest sign of German militarism; I haven’t noticed anyone clicking their heels or restraining their arms from performing a Strangelovian fascist salute. I see a culture so generally cool and herbivorous that the bicycle is king. I see a paradise for cyclists, where the helmetless hordes weave and wobble over the wide and tree-lined roads, and a Mercedes supercar will wait deferentially for a family to wander past his purring snout. The most serious public order problem at the moment is the tendency of Berliners to pursue the logic of their Freikörpeskultur by actually fornicating in their many magnificent parks; and such is the climate of political correctness that they decided to means-test the fines. So if you are caught in flagrante in the bushes, and you have a job, you get fined 150 euros — but only 34 euros if you are unemployed. If that isn’t broad-mindedness, I don’t know what is.

You ride around Berlin, and it doesn’t feel like the new imperial capital. There is no swagger, no pomp. Indeed, there isn’t even that much bustle — unlike London, Berlin’s population seems mysteriously to have declined over the last few years. It isn’t a global cosmopolis; it isn’t a magnet for immigrants; it’s still suffering the ill-effects of its location in what was the middle of communist East Germany.

But the Berliners seem to be young and hip, drawn to what is obviously a pretty groovy nightlife, and many of them seem to be British. In fact, if I were in my twenties and had been ordered to leave London, I think Berlin would be the first place I would choose. The rents are cheap, the food comes in proper Germanic helpings and everywhere there are bright people with tattoos engaged in start-ups. You look at Berliners today, and you ask yourself what the fuss was about, 24 years ago. There were people like my grandfather, and Margaret Thatcher, who were instinctively hostile to German unification — because they remembered what Berlin had done in two world wars. Then there were the euro-federalists, who argued that Germany needed to be “locked in” to Europe. We needed a single currency to “contain” Germany, they claimed, to “tie them in” — as though the Germans were loose cannon rolling about the European quarterdeck, about to crush innocent little Slavic nations. What a load of bunk that turned out to be.

We don’t need to “lock in” Germany with the single currency or indeed any other federalist fiction. The thing has been a disaster for the non-German parts of the EU, and the euro is now causing such pain in the periphery that even German exports are being damaged. It wasn’t the euro, I am afraid, that cured the Germans of militarism.

You look around Berlin and what hits you is how much of the city was pulverised. There is scarcely a pre-war building that does not have the scars of Russian shells or Allied bombing. This is a city that was at the centre of Europe’s two worst bouts of psychosis - fascism and then communism: an extended trauma that left Germany transformed.

I can understand why my grandfather’s generation felt as it did, but it is emphatically time to forget all that and embrace the new Germany. We have much to learn and to understand. How is it that respectable men and women can think it right to take their clothes off in the equivalent of Hyde Park? Why do they clap like Italians when their planes land? Why are they so good at making cars and machine tools? We have a great deal to admire and to copy, not least their treatment of cyclists.

We have absolutely nothing to fear.

Boris: new airport hub would ‘drive UK economy’

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson put forward the case for a new transport hub based on the Isle of Grain in Kent, saying it would be an "extraordinary" economic opportunity for the capital.

"Nobody likes the sound of an airport coming near them, but this would be something that would deliver huge numbers of jobs, huge economic opportunities for that part of Kent," he said.

Speaking at City Hall the Mayor said the "inner estuary solution" would create approximately 375,000 jobs many of them in the Thames Gateway area and would add 742 billion pounds to the UK economy.

He rejected the idea of expansion at Heathrow saying, the idea that there was space to expand the airport was "crackers"

The mayor put forward an alternative vision of the Heathrow area saying, "we would have the chance to create tens of thousands – if not one hundred thousand homes, new high-tech businesses a university campus, it would be a quite extraordinary economic opportunity".

Boris Johnson: Public don’t care about my personal life

Mr Johnson, clearly flustered, said: "All my experience so far is that people want to concentrate on the stuff that really is going to make a difference to their lives.

"They want to hear more about cutting council tax, or bringing down crime, or making London’s air quality better."

He said he was "not convinced" that the public were driven by questions of politicians’ personal lives when going to the polls.

He claimed that his "appetite for power" had been "absolutely glutted" by being Mayor of London.

He added: "Like lots of people, I am intellectually curious and restless, and want to get on with things".

He admitted he has to "dare to be dull" when making appearances in front of audiences expecting his usual gags.

"You turn up at an event and I can see people hungering for the birth of the joke, they are waiting like midwives or staff at an operating theatre for me to produce this thing and nothing comes out and they look absolutely baffled.

"I simply say something completely reasonable. They want the gag and the gag doesn't come because there isn't a gag sometimes."

He added: "The answer to that is sometimes to have the wit to be dull... to dare to be dull."

Asked if he was worried he was seen as "not serious enough for the top job", Mr Johnson said: "I don't care about that. Being Mayor is unbelievably full of difficult executive decisions.

"I really don't have enough time to worry about that kind of thing. I've got almost three more years as Mayor... it's a long time, you can get a lot done in that period and I want to do that."

At last year's Tory Party conference, veteran Conservative minister Ken Clarke said Mr Johnson needed to "settle down" if he had ambitions beyond the mayoralty.

Mr Clarke said: "If he really wants to be a prime minister for serious reasons and not just getting his picture in the paper more often, he really does have to settle down and demonstrate he can seriously deliver on some complicated subjects."

Boris Johnson was right about Muslim women struggling to find husbands

I was transported to the 1950's where education was simply a route to marriage. Worse: I was back with my Muslim aunties, the matchmakers and gossips, for whom education is a hindrance to young women getting married, because educated women (so they tell us) have big heads, and are not properly domesticated.

In the subsequent days a storm erupted about the Mayor’s sexism and outdated views. He issued a clarification, saying that he was referring to a phenomenon called "assortative mating": where women prefer to ‘marry up’ in terms of IQ, and so the smarter women are, the smarter the men they seek.

But such negative attitudes when put into the public space have a massive social impact and the leader of a city as diverse as London ought to be clearer about the context of his comments.

Muslim women in the UK for example are achieving more in education at a faster rate than their male peers, yet the idea that education will hinder marriage opportunities persists. They have a strong sense of being integrated into society as well as feeling woven into their own Muslim communities. These women have a great deal of pressure put on them to marry - the supposed ultimate fulfilment and destiny of an Asian woman (most Muslims in the UK are of Asian origin). Career success is considered at best a hindrance at worst a failure if she’s not married.

Rather than marrying to fulfil social expectations, most British Muslim women seek marriage for a partner and companion – like most other women. Funny that? Rather ironically though, they do have problems in finding husbands.

There are two reasons: Muslim men are trained through culture, and usually through the diktats of their mothers (so women have some blame here) to look for women who are less educated than they are, and usually younger too, on the premise that they will be less opinionated and domineering, and can be more easily 'moulded' into the family. The upshot is that it is still popular to go 'back home' to find a bride, as she is seen to be a better domesticated wife. One of the results of that is women who arrive in the UK with little knowledge of the country and the local language sometimes experience issues with identity, isolation and violence.

On the other hand, British Muslim women are not willing to marry 'back home'. Unlike their male peers, according to qualitative studies, they would prefer to marry someone who is British or at least Western because they feel that will be a better match for their values, culture and aspirations.

The second problem is that such educated Muslim women are seeking greater equity in gender roles in the marriage, a partnership rather than a traditional male/female power structure. It is this deeper understanding of marriage through an Islamic lens driving this trend. There are many amazing Muslim men out there, but many haven’t adjusted yet. Which means that Muslim women either can't find a spouse who is a match for their aspirations, or marriages are increasingly failing.

The irony is that Boris Johnson is therefore more spot on than we'd like to admit - how do we address the issue of these educated, worldly, community-oriented, faith-driven women being unmarried in increasing numbers? The reason his words hit a nerve is because this is not Muslim women's problem - they are doing everything right and living up to our expectations of educated, liberated women as Islam demands. The issue with our social views is that educated women are somehow a problem, whether that be in helping perpetuate the unfair stereotype of the bossy, opinionated unfeminine graduate, or creating a marriage crisis.

Instead we need to turn our focus on the Muslim men we nurture. Our priority is to help men to step up, but today’s parents, especially mothers need to do the same. They can offer the kind of upbringing which can resolve these issues in a generation, and make comments like those of the Mayor a thing of the past.

Shelina Janmohamed is the author of Love in a Headscarf - Muslim Woman Seeks the One. She can be found tweeting here. She is the Vice President of Ogilvy Noor, the world's first branding agency for Muslim consumers, and one of 'Britain's Future female leaders of the advertising industry' according to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.