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Boris Johnson: plus ça change

It was meant to signal a warm embrace, a welcome back to the inner sanctum.

A seat at David Cameron’s political cabinet post-election was a show of confidence in the man many see as leader in waiting of the Conservative Party.

But rather than sit back and quietly rally supporters, Boris is instead ‘quietly’ putting himself at the forefront of many of the increasingly awkward decisions being faced by the PM this term.

Writing for the Daily Telegraph today, he reiterates his support for the top rate of income tax to be reduced to 40p, at once appealing to many of his Conservative colleagues and, as he says himself, Nigel Lawson.

The same article implies (tongue in cheek, mind, but seriously…) that the reason for Britain’s finest tennis player losing in 2011 to another rather good player called Rafael Nadal was, in fact, Gordon Brown’s implementation of a 50p top rate of income tax rate.

But I digress.

George Osborne was on Andrew Marr’s show yesterday and appeared to push back against cutting the top rate of tax, possibly wary of the signals it sends with benefit payments for families outside Greater London set to be capped.

And it’s not just on tax that the pair appear to be off message.

Today, in a letter to the Runways UK conference, the chancellor described another of Boris’s pet peeves, the Airports Commission’s report, as “clear, reasoned and based on the evidence”.

It’s Boris’s Heathrow stance (which probably looks a little bit like the second picture down of this ‘maverick MP’ article) that may make or break his leadership aspirations, and the sanity of the prime minister.

The mayor has already called the Commission report “catastrophic” and insisted a new Heathrow runway will not happen.

So two of the would-be leaders of the Conservatives, part of the inner sanctum of top Tories running the nation, are set on collision course, like a pair of rutting stags (with less focus, one hopes, on the eventual breeding).

We have already reported on the construction-sized problems being faced by the PM in his second term, and look at CN tomorrow to find out why it’s not just maverick MPs who aren’t convinced Heathrow will eventually get the nod as Jack Simpson reports from Runways UK.

Got five minutes?

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