Friends of Boris Johnson have sought to play down claims of a feud within the Conservatives amid suggestions the Mayor of London was the victim of a dirty tricks campaign at the hands of Chancellor George Osborne.
Johnson is understood to be surprised by reports that he had been urged to stand in the general election and has insisted he will serve out his term in City Hall.
Allegations of a rift flared up after reports in The Times yesterday that Osborne had personally delivered a message to Johnson that he should fight in 2015, a move observers said was an attempt to call his bluff.
Some supporters of the mayor claimed the Chancellor's camp had embarked on a deliberate attempt to thwart any future bid to become Tory leader, according to the Mail on Sunday.
"This is nothing to do with party loyalty and everything to do with Osborne and Cameron trying to destabilise Boris.
"He saw it coming a mile off. They want to make sure that if the Tories lose, Boris gets as much flak as they do and can't stand as leader as a 'break with the failed Cameron-Osborne regime'."
It is understood that there has been no conversation during which the Chancellor urged Johnson to fight the election but he is said to be relaxed about the reports.
No offer has been made over the job of party chairman but it is believed that Johnson would not accept such a proposal while he was running London.
Sources said that discussions the mayor has with Prime Minister David Cameron and Osborne focus on the 2015 campaign, not his future role within the party.
A close friend of the mayor last night played down reports of a feud, telling the Press Association: "Boris' focus is on London - it was in 2012, when he stood for a second term, it will be in 2016 when he finishes that term.
"In between only two things matter to Boris - delivering for London, and ensuring we have a majority Conservative government led by David Cameron after 2015. Boris will be out and about doing all he can to make sure that happens."
Grant Shapps, the Conservative party chairman, told the BBC's Andrew Marr show on Sunday that he "absolutely" wanted Boris Johnson to be part of the next election campaign, but "campaigning for a majority Conservative government".
"Boris Johnson has a big part to play in our party, but he's doing a fantastic job as Mayor of London."Suggest a correction