London

General Election 2015: Boris Johnson to focus on London

London Mayor Boris Johnson Image copyright PA
Image caption Boris Johnson has been visiting target Conservative seats in Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire

Boris Johnson will focus his General Election campaigning on up to a dozen key London seats, including some the Conservatives believe they can gain as well as those where they look vulnerable to defeat.

London's mayor looks set to spend nearly all the campaign in the capital, dividing his time between target seats, City Hall and the constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip where he is standing to be the next MP.

That is contrary to reports he will be playing a major role across the country and comes after criticism he has been spending too much time already in recent months helping candidates in marginal seats outside London.

His involvement at the heart of the campaign also looks like being in contrast to what some saw as his detached role in the 2010 election.

Details of his schedule are yet to be finalised, but he is expected to make at least two visits each to battlegrounds such as Brentford, Croydon Central, Ealing and Acton and Enfield North, where polling suggests the incumbent Conservatives are struggling.

He will also be deployed in seats which the Tories believe they can gain, such as Hampstead and Kilburn from Labour, and Sutton and Cheam, and Twickenham from the Liberal Democrats.

Campaign visits will happen mainly in the morning before he resumes mayoral duties at City Hall during the afternoons.

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Boris Johnson has visited the US and Kurdistan in recent months

Visits to Uxbridge are likely to be confined to Saturdays, Friday evenings and Monday mornings.

There has been some criticism that he recently opted out of a hustings in the constituency but City Hall said it clashed with a mayoral question time event in north London.

It is apparent the Conservatives are hoping to derive maximum benefit from the mayor's popular appeal, integrating him fully into their London campaign.

Some observers say the Tory campaign in 2010 suffered from a lack of cohesion between Conservative headquarters and Johnson's own team.

The mayor was one of three likely potential successors named by Prime Minister David Cameron this week.

This was seen as a further attempt to bind in a figure inclined to independent thought and action in the past - always potentially perilous during an election campaign.

For several months Johnson has been paying pre-election campaign visits to Conservative target seats around the country including in Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire.

He recently flew to Devon for a pub lunch with one MP. Last week he was in Cheshire. On Thursday he is due to be in the Midlands.

There's been some criticism that the mayor has not visited several key London seats so far this year, but paid visits to the US and Kurdistan as well as these visits to support candidates around the UK.

The Evening Standard published a column with a headline accusing him of leaving Tory MPs "high and dry".

A City Hall source said the claim was "palpable nonsense".

A spokesman for the mayor said: "He will be continuing with a range of mayoral duties given his responsibilities for running the capital.

"During the campaign he will be in London for the vast majority of time."

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