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Could Boris Johnson be Thatcher's political heir?

As Britain awaits Margaret Thatcher's ceremonial funeral, London's mayor Boris Johnson has argued that her policies of free markets and low taxes are alive and kicking.

"Thatcherism lives; and will live as long as there are people in this country, and on this planet, who see how economic freedom can be the servant not just of the rich, but of our whole society," Johnson wrote in The Telegraph newspaper.

Johnson's comments come as some highlight similarities between him and the "Iron Lady." Many tout Johnson as the next leader of the Conservative party and future Prime Minister.

Johnson had a great run in 2012, winning re-election and helping to stage the hugely successful London Olympics.

"Boris has what all good politicians have: a clear vision. He does not get up most mornings of the week trying to figure out what he thinks; he knows instinctively what he believes in," said Lord Coe, who headed the organizing committee for the 2012 Olympic Games

(Read More: Boris Johnson: Britons Don't Work as Hard as Migrants)

Such comments bear a sharp resemblance to Thatcher, who died from a stroke at the age of 87, last Monday.

"Tap anyone on the shoulder anywhere in the world, and ask what Mrs Thatcher believed in, and they will tell you. They can give a clear answer to what she stood for," said Maurice Saatchi, the chair of the U.K.'s Center for Policy Studies, which Thatcher jointly founded.

"She developed all the winning arguments of our time - free markets, low tax, a small state, independence, individuality, self-determination. The result was a revolution in economic policy and three election victories in a row."

(Read More: Kudlow: Margaret Thatcher, Freedom, and Free Markets)

Johnson's "small state" beliefs came through in his upcoming interview with CNBC Meets, in which he said Londoners needed more philanthropy rather than higher taxes.

"Taxpayers are very, very hard pushed and I've tried to bear down on taxes," Johnson said.

"We have people for whom their rent is a huge proportion of their income, their transport costs are a huge proportion of their income. It is very, very tough to take more money from them to pay for things that are good in society."

However, Tony Travers, a professor of government at the London School of Economics, described Johnson as more of a "classic conservative," holding similar economic views to Mrs. Thatcher, but with more of the paternalism of traditional conservatism.

"He believes in a smaller state, lower taxes, and he is mildly euro skeptic. He, Osborne and Cameron have that in common: they're social and economic liberals, recognizable as conservatives from the 1950s and 1960s," said Travers.

Rumors continue to circulate that the flamboyant and high profile politician will make a bid to lead the Conservative Party, although his second term as London Mayor will not end until 2016. Johnson denied the possibility however, when asked by CNBC Meets's Tania Bryer.

"I think most sensible people, who know enough about British politics, know that I am jolly lucky to be Mayor - let alone anything else - and that is what I'm going to focus on," Johnson said. "I was very lucky to be elected Mayor. I've got a massive amount to do, I've got a solemn duty, which I love and is my work, to get the Olympic legacy done."

Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson
Jan Kruger | Getty Images
Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson

Nonetheless, surveys indicate strong support for Johnson as Prime Minister, with public approval of the Mayor still high after the Olympic Games. One poll in March suggested the Conservative Party will lose at the next national election if led by current Prime Minister David Cameron, but tie jointly with the Labour Party if led by Johnson.

(Read More: London Mayor Outshines PM at Medal Parade)

Some political scientists question however whether Johnson, who is known for his gaffs and disheveled appearance, has the gravitas to lead the country.

Politics Professor Tim Bale, of Queen Mary, University of London, said: "While his achievements as Mayor aren't utterly negligible, they're undoubtedly more symbolic than substantive.

"Indeed, even his biggest success, the Olympics, probably would have gone just as well without him."

(Read More: Meet Alex Stubb, the EU's Boris Johnson)

However, Travers said the current Cameron administration has set a precedent for a more hands-off leadership style, which would offer Johnson leeway to rely on the expertise of others.

"If you look at the way the present government operates, the Prime Minister leaves the Chancellor with a huge amount of discretion regarding the economy and Osborne pretty much have a free run," Travers said.

"If Boris was in power, he'd appoint a Chancellor and they'd go away and do their work."

With public approval for the current Conservative-led coalition teetering, Johnson could find himself as Leader of the Opposition for a lengthy period, as Thatcher herself did. However, Travers said this would prove no deterrent.

"He is by trade a journalist and journalists know how to do opposition, as they set themselves up to be broadly skeptical of people in power. Being in opposition and having a go at government would come quite easily to him."

CNBC Meets: Boris Johnson will air on Wednesday 17 April.

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  • Showtimes

    EMEA

    Lauren Bush Lauren –

    Wednesday 17 December 23:00 CET

    Saturday 20 December 23:30CET

    Sunday 21 December 18:00CET


    ASIA

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    Saturday 20 December 19:00 SIN/HK

    Sunday 21 December 07:00 & 20:00 SIN/HK

    Monday 22 December 04:00 SIN/HK


    AUSTRALIA/NZ

    Lauren Bush Lauren –

    Saturday 20 December 19:00 AEST

    Sunday 21 December 07:00, 10:30, 17:00, 20:00 AEST

    Monday 22 Decmber 04:00, 08:00 AEST