Boris Johnson takes a pay cut, but he's a big election winner

Boris Johnson on campaign

Contrary to some reports and widespread Twitter outrage, Boris Johnson will not be paid more than the prime minister now that he’s an MP as well as London’s mayor.

Having become the House of Commons representative of the lucky residents of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Johnson is required by law to lose two thirds of his mayoral salary. Neither is there any issue with his being London mayor and an MP at the same time. It is perfectly legal and Johnson has precedent on his side: Ken Livingstone was an MP when he become the first holder of the City Hall post in May 2000 and he remained one until the general election of the following June. Also, if prime ministers can simultaneously be MPs, why can’t London mayors?

Johnson has been receiving around £142,000 a year as the capital’s political leader. This is actually less than the £144,000 he’s entitled to as he’s declined to accept annual pay rises during his second term. For the final year of that term, which ends in May 2016, Johnson will therefore get just over £47,000. His salary as an MP is £67,000, making a total of around £114,000 a year. In other words, holding down his two jobs as a politician means Johnson is to be about 28 grand a year worse off.

Also, he won’t be getting paid for being a member of David Cameron’s “political cabinet”, a role that City Hall says will take up about two hours of his time every second Tuesday (and is not to be confused with being a cabinet minister, as some on social media are doing). Meetings of this group will either follow or precede government cabinet meetings and be attended by Cameron and various Tory party top brass. Johnson will get over all that, though. The mayor will still be cranking out his £250,000 a year Telegraph column, so don’t expect to see him queuing for lentils at the Islington food bank, even though an unspecified portion of that separate, media income is donated to charities.

It was never likely that Johnson would be given a ministerial role while he was still mayor - that really would have been pushing his luck - and Cameron said in advance of the election that in the event of his remaining prime minister he would expect his “star player” to see out his second four-year mayoral stint in full. Reports that this suits Johnson anyway because it means he won’t be constrained by cabinet responsibility from continuing to campaign against a third runway at Heathrow - now thought more likely to happen than it was - are, I’m assured, pretty much accurate. There could be another reason it suits him, though.

Cameron’s unpredicted victory means Johnson no longer needs to step down as mayor early in order to fulfill his ambition of replacing his old Bullingdon Club chum as Tory leader. Not that this means mayoral matters will be receiving quite the attention they deserve from “Boris” any more than they were before May 7. Spending more time at the Palace of Westminster will give him more opportunity to work on that Conservative leadership bid, impressing fellow MPs with his gravitas, grip and general marvellousness. Cameron has said he will be gone from Number 10 in advance of the next general election, due in 2020. Expect the by then ex-mayor Johnson to be fully revved up to take his place. It was rather a good general election for him.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Dave Hill, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 13th May 2015 14.34 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010