Boris Johnson has revealed that he yearns to be back in parliament, in a comment which will be interpreted as a sign that he is laying the ground for an eventual leadership bid.
A return to the Commons would be a necessary first step for a leadership pitch if David Cameron failed to return as prime minister after the 2015 general election, but the London mayor has promised to serve in City Hall until the end of his term in 2016.
"During the whole Syria thing, for the first time in years I wished I was in parliament," he said.
"I watched that and I thought... I wished. I wished."
Johnson has been constantly tipped to return to the green benches, from where he could launch a leadership bid.
Rumours around a return reached fever pitch when the coalition was least popular, just after the 'omnishambles' Budget.
But Johnson faces several difficulties which complicate a return to the green benches.
Once back in the Commons, Johnson would likely be hounded by questions about his motives and be seen as an obvious stalking horse against the Tory leader.
Johnson has previously admitted that he would like to become leader "if the ball came loose from the back of a scrum".
But ahead of the Tory conference in Manchester, he said: "I'll tell you exactly where the ball is: the ball is currently at the feet of the scrum.
"I am bound into the pack and we are surging towards the line for a pushover try. That's my role: bound in, driving for the line."
Recently Johnson has taken to publicly toying with the idea that he would serve a third term in City Hall.