The Liberal Democrats must find a new candidate to contest next year’s delayed election for London Mayor following Siobhan Benita announcing today that she is dropping out of the contest.
Benita, who was selected as candidate in November 2018, said that the “nature of the role, which is unpaid, makes it very difficult to combine with other work”, leaving her unable to commit to it from now until next May, when the election, postponed because of the pandemic, is due to be held.
In a video, she thanked Lib Dem members, activists, donors and volunteers for their efforts on her behalf, saying she has taken her decision “very sadly and after much consideration”. She picked out tackling violence against young people and racism as issues she felt particularly strongly about and said she would like to continue working in those areas.
Benita had slipped to fifth place in the mayoral contest according to the most recent opinion poll, which was conducted in March, though she would have hoped to have benefited from the subsequent withdrawal from the contest of Rory Stewart, the former Conservative minister who ran as an Independent on a centre ground, strongly localist platform likely to have appealed to some potential Lib Dem voters.
Benita has herself run as an Independent mayoral candidate, finishing fifth in 2012 with 83,914 first preference votes, only 14,999 behind the third placed candidate.
Ben Sims, chair of London Liberal Democrats, described Benita as having been “a fantastic candidate” and said “the necessary internal process” for selecting a successor has begun.
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