David Cameron has said he intends to stand again for election as an MP in 2020, leaving the door open for him to continue in a government role in the next parliament.
The prime minister previously said he did not want to carry on in the top job for a third term but there has been speculation he could row back on that position if he wins the EU referendum and cements his authority.
Speaking on BBC Radio Oxford on Thursday, Cameron replied when pressed on whether he would fight another election to be the MP for Witney in 2020 that he was “very keen to continue”.
When asked if that meant he would seek re-election in 2020, he replied: “That is very much my intention.”
The prime minister effectively kickstarted a leadership battle before the 2015 election when he signalled in a BBC interview that he did not want to “go on and on”, and has since said that 10 years as prime minister is enough.
Possible successors include the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, the home secretary, Theresa May, the chancellor, George Osborne, and newer faces such as Nicky Morgan, Sajid Javid and Priti Patel.
Johnson and Patel’s chances are thought to have been boosted by their decision to campaign for Brexit, as the final decision on any new leader will be made from a shortlist of two by the Conservative party’s members.
A contest could come as soon as this year if Cameron loses the EU referendum, triggering a probable challenge, although he has insisted he would want to stay on to negotiate Britain leaving the EU.
If he wins, Cameron is likely to face some pressure from allies to carry on and fight the 2020 election as prime minister, given his success at unexpectedly gaining a majority at the last one.
His intention to stand again as an MP means he could either retire to the backbenches after 2020, like Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg, carry on in a senior government role if one of his allies is voted in as the new prime minister, or potentially take on an opposition spokesman’s job if Labour were to win.
This article was written by Rowena Mason, for theguardian.com on Thursday 10th March 2016 12.38 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010