Boris confirms mayoral bid

Boris Johnson will stand as a Tory candidate for the mayor of London.

After weeks of speculation, the MP has confirmed, hours before the nominations close for the Conservative candidate, that he will seek to challenge Ken Livingstone.

He will remain MP for Henley but has resigned from his post as shadow higher education minister to focus on the campaign.

Mr Johnson will now face a ballot of Londoners as the party tries to choose its official candidate for the 2008 mayoral election.

The cycling MP had originally indicated he would not stand for the position, citing his commitments to his constituents, but said today the opportunity was too great to pass up.

Confirming his bid, Mr Johnson said: “I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received from so many people across London.”

He continued: “London is an outstandingly varied and beautiful place and it deserves a proper debate. I want to bring fresh ideas to the capital and offer a new direction for Londoners.

“I believe that the Mayor of London should keep things simple and direct his or her intellectual energy at the core problems that affect people’s everyday lives.”

The Conservatives’ candidate will be announced at their annual conference in Blackpool in late September.

David Cameron has struggled to find a high-profile candidate to challenge Mr Livingstone, who has confirmed he will stand for a third term.

Former BBC director-general Greg Dyke rejected the Tory leader’s advances, along with Nick Ferrari, Lord Stevens and Sir Digby Jones, who later became a minister in Gordon Brown’s government.

Boris Johnson’s media profile is thought to give him the edge over the other Tory hopefuls. However, it has been asked whether his reputation for buffoonery and gaffs will deter voters.