Johnson has stepped down as editor of The Spectator after accepting a
job from new Tory leader David Cameron, a move which has
long been rumoured to be in the pipeline.
Johnson, who became
Cameron's higher education spokesman on Friday, said in a
statement that the chance to return to the Tory team was "fantastic"
and he would "need time and thought to do it properly".
He was sacked as shadow arts minister by Michael Howard last year for lying over his affair with columnist Petronella Wyatt.
added: "I want to pay tribute to everyone at the magazine who has
helped with its current success. For the last six and a half years we
have had more fun than seems altogether proper. "When Conrad Black gave
me the editorship in the summer of 1999, he said he wanted the magazine
to be more talked about. I believe we have discharged that obligation
beyond his wildest dreams. "We have won all sorts of prizes. We have
broken all sorts of stories."
Johnson's position will be covered
by his deputy, Stuart Reid, until a replacement is found. Rumours of
who could fill the editor role have been circulating for weeks, with
Waitrose Food Illustrated editor William Sitwell, Tatler editor Geordie
Grieg and Fraser Nelson, political editor of The Scotman, all said to
be in the picture.
Spectator CEO Andrew Neil said: "Boris has
been a wonderful and magnificent editor of The Spectator and we are
sorry to lose him; in many ways he will be irreplaceable. But we wish
him every success in his political career.
"Boris leaves the
magazine in better shape than it has ever been in its long and glorious
history, both editorially and financially. "Sales will hit a record
70,000 this December and the magazine has recorded another healthy
profit in 2005. The editorial breadth and quality under his editorship
has been unrivalled.
"Though he is stepping down as editor I am
delighted that Boris will continue to have a close association with The
Spectator, including a new column for us in the New Year. "As we begin
the search for his replacement, I am also delighted that the magazine
will be in the reliable and competent hands of Stuart Reid."