David Cameron has said he cannot wait for London mayor Boris Johnson to return to Government as he poured cold water on speculation of a post-election deal with Ukip, saying that the prospect of meeting their demand for a referendum this year on Britain’s EU membership was “pretty slim”.
Speaking to ITV1’s Good Morning Britain, the Prime Minister made clear he would not talk about possible coalitions until after the May 7 election, insisting he still believes his goal of an overall Conservative majority “can be done”.
Asked whether he would stay on as Conservative leader if he fails to win power, Mr Cameron told interviewer Susanna Reid: “That’s a matter for the public and a matter for the party.”
But in an apparent acknowledgement that election defeat could end his leadership reign, the Prime Minister told London’s Evening Standard he would not put the “mark of Cain” on any potential successor “if my party decided to move on without me”.
He said: “All I will say is that I think you see a group of very strong competent leaders behind me. Boris (Johnson) is a huge talent, George (Osborne), Theresa May, Michael Gove, Philip Hammond. I can’t wait until Boris gets back. George and I were discussing it just this morning.”
The Prime Minister indicated that London mayor Mr Johnson would not walk straight into a ministerial role if he wins the safe Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat on May 7.
“He has got to finish being mayor”, Mr Cameron said, referring to the end of Mr Johnson’s term at City Hall in May next year.
“Boris can do anything, he defies all laws of political logic and gravity. I think he needs to focus on being mayor, strongly. Being MP and the mayor is quite a lot.”
The Prime Minister has vowed to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s membership of the European Union before holding an in/out referendum by the end of 2017 although he would be “delighted” to have the vote earlier.
“I have said there will be a renegotiation and then a referendum. Obviously, the sooner that renegotiation can get done, the better,” he told Good Morning Britain.
The interviews formed part of a series of media engagements aimed at showing the private side of prime ministerial life as Mr Cameron seeks to win over voters in the run-up to the election.