As the Conservatives take a “hammering” in local elections in many other parts of England, in Labour-dominated London they are organising their process for selecting a candidate to challenge Sadiq Khan next year.
The Evening Standard has reported that the Tories’ “London board” has decided to fast track the process so that a challenger to the Labour incumbent, who is seeking a record third term, has been chosen by the end of July.
According to national party chairman Greg Hands, who is also the MP for Chelsea & Fulham, “swift but thorough” selection arrangements will see an approved shortlist of candidates take part in hustings across the capital prior to a vote by Tory members.
Experienced London Assembly member (AM) Andrew Boff has said he will definitely enter the contest, while minister for London Paul Scully, currently MP for Sutton & Cheam, has said he is considering doing so. Another AM, Nick Rogers, who represents the South West Assembly constituency, has expressed interest and now been joined by his and Boff’s Assembly colleague Susan Hall.
Hall, a former leader of Harrow Council and a current member of it alongside her Assembly role, has been one of Khan’s more strident critics and built a profile with sympathetic audiences through appearances on right wing television channels.
Hall has praised and defended controversial fellow Conservatives, including Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Tory vice-chairman Lee Anderson, and was a loyal defender of Boris Johnson throughout the so-called “partygate” scandal that saw him receive a police fine and also after his removal as her party’s leader and Prime Minister.
She has just stood down as leader of the Assembly’s Tory group and chair of its police and crime committee, and recently removed a photograph of herself with Johnson from her Twitter profile, replacing it with one of City Hall. Hall told the Standard she will make a decision in the coming week.
Welwyn Hatfield councillor and executive member Samuel Kasumu, a former adviser to Johnson when he was PM, has been making known his interest for several months, and former Lewisham Liberal Democrat councillor Duwayne Brooks said a few days ago that he would like the job.
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