Boris Johnson surprises shoppers in Eastleigh on campaign trail

Customers going about their business this morning in a branch of Asda in Eastleigh, Hampshire found an unexpected stranger loitering among the trolleys.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson was in town, campaigning on behalf of Maria Hutchings, the Conservative candidate in next Thursday's byelection.

An army of cameras and journalists was in evidence as Boris held forth outside the supermarket, handing out leaflets to passers-by who appeared alternately bemused and nonplussed.

As usual, the mayor denied his activities were in any way an effort to raise his profile outside London, telling reporters: "This just happens to be the most convenient day in the half-term to come to Eastleigh."

Boris Johnson on the campaign trail in an Asda car park in Eastleigh, HampshireChris Ison, PA Wire

The fact Boris chose to make the trip while prime minister David Cameron was out of the country on a trip to India was clearly coincidental.

"I'm here to talk about the campaign and I have a job to do as mayor of London," Boris continued. "This is about a very tight fight in Eastleigh, which the Lib Dems have held since 1994. If we can pull it out of the hat that would be fantastic, but clearly it will be a tough fight."
 
The byelection is taking place following the resignation of former MP Chris Huhne, who admitted perverting the course of justice.

The Liberal Democrats are favourites to keep the seat. Boris used his walkabout to dub Nick Clegg's party "great big wobbling jellies."

"I'm free to say what I think," he continued. "They're all over the place in their policies."

The Eastleigh byelection is taking place on Thursday 28 February. A total of 14 candidates are standing.