Tories braced for Boris

By Alex Stevenson

Conservative party members are waiting with bated breath to see whether London mayor Boris Johnson rocks the boat in his speech to the party conference.

Delegates gathered in Birmingham will see whether Mr Johnson – until this year the most senior Tory in an executive role in the country – expresses concern at how impending spending cuts impact the capital.

The London mayor is known to be especially concerned about the future of Crossrail, a major transport infrastructure boost for which work is now underway.

While public spending reductions will not hit London to the extent expected in regions like the north-east, substantial cuts will nevertheless have a negative effect on the city.

Mr Johnson, who faces a challenge for City Hall in 2012 from his predecessor in the job, Ken Livingstone, must judge whether his best chances of clinging on rest with championing the national government’s austerity drive – or opposing it.