Boris wants Cameron to ‘fail miserably’

By politics.co.uk staff

Boris Johnson wants David Cameron to "fail miserably", the prime minister's former spin doctor Andy Coulson has claimed.

Coulson said the London mayor would not plot to undermine his party leader but would be happy to replace him if an opportunity arose – perhaps after the 2015 general election, when Cameron faces a tough time achieving an overall majority.

"Boris Johnson desperately wants to be prime minister and David has known that fact longer than most," he said in GQ magazine.

"When Boris asked me to pass on the message that he was keen to stand as mayor of London, David responded 'well, if he wins, he'll want my job next'.

"If proof were needed that our PM is a man untroubled by self doubt, it came in his next sentence – 'so I think he'll be a bloody brilliant candidate for us'."

Johnson was asked about Coulson's comments on BBC Radio 5 Live this morning. He responded with a comment many observers will note suggests he did not always have absolute faith in Cameron's ability to win the next general election.

The London mayor said: "I'm always grateful to Andy Coulson for his career advice but I'm backing David Cameron who I am absolutely increasingly confident is going to win."

Speculation about Johnson's leadership ambitions peaked before his crash-and-burn interview with Eddie Mair on The Andrew Marr Show, when he struggled to respond to the accusation that "you're a nasty piece of work".

Coulson said it was not Boris' style to directly challenge Cameron. He added: "Stabbing David, or anyone else for that matter, in the back would be distinctly off brand – just not very Boris.

"He would much prefer to see David fail miserably in the election and ride in on his bike to save party and country."

The former News of the World editor, who resigned as Cameron's director of communications as the phone-hacking scandal gathered pace, also gave a scathing assessment of Ed Miliband's performance as leader of the opposition.

He claimed the shadow Cabinet are "detached" from Miliband.

"I just don't think they rate him very much," he wrote.

"And if they don't, there's a good chance the public will feel the same way once they get to know him properly."

Coulson urged the Tory party to exploit divisions on the Labour benches because "it's history repeating itself".