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Nine candidates battling to become Tory mayoral candidate for London

Nine people are thought to have put their names forward to become the Tory mayoral candidate to take on Sadiq Khan next May.

Entries had to be received by 9am on Monday. There has been no official conformation from Conservative HQ - meaning it has been for the candidates themselves to confirm their bids.

Government minister Paul Scully appears to be the front-runner.

Paul Scully: front-runner to be Tory mayoral candidate (Ross Lydall/Evening Standard)
Paul Scully: front-runner to be Tory mayoral candidate (Ross Lydall/Evening Standard)

Others who have declared publicly are London Assembly members Susan Hall and Andrew Boff, former Downing Street aides Samuel Kasumu and Daniel Korski, a former aide to the Royal family Natalie Campbell and businessman Alex Challoner.

According to LBC, Duwayne Brooks has entered the race - though there has been no obvious confirmation from Mr Brooks.

Natasha Asghar, a member of the Welsh assembly, has also applied, according to her Twitter feed.

One Tory source told the Standard that the shortlist was likely to be Mr Scully, Ms Hall and Mr Boff.

Baroness Karren Brady, the vice-chairman of West Ham United and star of The Apprentice, ruled herself out of the race.

London Assembly member Nick Rogers withdrew from the race last week, saying “now is not my time”.

A shortlist of three candidates is due to be announced on June 4, followed by hustings. A winner is due to be revealed on July 19.

Mr Challoner, a board member of the “One Nation” Tory Reform Group, has launched a poll inviting Londoners to give their views on alternatives to the Ulez expansion.

He wants to pause the mayor’s Greater London expansion but still believes action is needed to tackle air pollution.

He said: “We need an immediate pause to the expansion of the divisive Ulez to give Londoners an opportunity to come up with alternatives to improve the air quality in our city.”

It came as Mr Kasumu made a new policy pledge, vowing to recruit a new generation of 2,000 volunteer police cadets to restore trust and confidence in the Met.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, Mr Kasumu pointed to the Ulez expansion, which he opposes, and lack of affordable housing and said: “I think people are going to be looking for an alternative to some of the things that Sadiq Khan is doing.”

He was a Downing Street advisor to Boris Johnson. “I think Boris was an excellent mayor,” he said. “As a boss he was always very supportive. I think he was a huge asset and a reminder of a Conservative mayor in London.”

Mr Kasumu is currently a cabinet member of Welwyn Hatfield council. “I have been in politics since I was 19,” he said. “I’m the kind of candidate who will cause [Sadiq Khan] most problems.”

Ms Hall, who also gave an interview to the Standard, told what inspired her to become a politician.

She railed against the “woke” agenda and culture wars, and said of her forthright approach: “I tend to say exactly what I am thinking.”