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  1. ITV Report

London Mayor Boris Johnson to take centre-stage at Tory conference

London Mayor Boris Johnson will today deliver a keynote speech at the Conservative party conference, amid speculation about his leadership ambitions.

On Monday evening, Mr Johnson received a hero's welcome from activists when he arrived at fringe meeting hosted by ConservativeHome in Birmingham.

Speaking at the event, titled "Boris 2012: Re-elected and Olympotastic" the London mayor confirmed his loyalty to the prime minister and insisted that no one should "doubt my admiration for David Cameron."

It is sometimes inevitable that the mayor of a great city will find himself saying things that do seem at variance with national policies.

Of course I am going to continue to lobby for a long-term solution to our aviation capacity problem.

No one as a result should have any cause to doubt my admiration for David Cameron.

– London Mayor Boris Johnson
Mayor of London Boris Johnson with Prime Minister David Cameron Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

During a joke-laden speech, Mr Johnson also stressed that he was one of the first "Cameroons" in the 2005 Tory leadership contest.

He added: "I believe that in tough circumstances he, George Osborne and the rest of the Government are doing exactly what is needed for this country and to clear up the mess that Labour left."

In his address this morning, Mr Johnson is expected to focus on his successes in London

He will also again insist he is completely loyal to Mr Cameron, praising the Prime Minister for taking "difficult decisions in difficult times".

London Mayor Boris Johnson arrives at Birmingham New Street Station Credit: Stefan Rousseau /PA Wire

Mr Johnson received star treatment when arrived in Birmingham and was confronted by a media scrum.

Pushing his way through a sea of press photographers, he said he was there "to support the party".

ITV News' Political Correspondent Libby Weiner reports.

On Sunday Mr Johnson declined an opportunity in a radio interview to say that Mr Cameron was a better Prime Minister than he would be, describing the question as "unverifiable".

Polls have suggested the Tories would get a significant bounce if he was in charge.

The prospect of the London mayor taking over as party leader was given short shrift by veteran Cabinet minister Kenneth Clarke yesterday.

Former Chancellor and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke Credit: Max Nash/PA Wire

Mr Clarke told fringe events Mr Johnson needed to "settle down and demonstrate he can seriously deliver on some complicated subjects", urging him to "calm down".

My advice to Boris is get back to the day job and demonstrate you can be a serious leader of a local large city government and a serious deliverer of policy.

– Cabinet minister Kenneth Clarke

Asked last night if he was flattered by all the leadership speculation, the mayor said it was "very, very bad for my ego" and a "distraction".

"I think Ken Clarke was on the money earlier on when he said that it was a distraction and it needs to end".

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