Andrew Boff, an experienced member of the London Assembly and a former leader of Hillingdon Council, has told On London that he will seek to become the Conservative Party’s candidate to run for Mayor of London in May 2024.
He is the first senior London Tory to say he will definitely enter the internal party contest to find a challenger to, almost certainly, Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan, who has been comfortably re-selected to seek a record third term at the helm of City Hall.
Paul Scully, MP for Sutton & Cheam and minister for London, has recently hinted that he might bid for the Tory nomination but has not yet confirmed his intentions.
Boff, 64, who is noted for his independent libertarian views and ability to irritate Khan at City Hall scrutiny sessions, has made unsuccessful attempts to become his party’s mayoral candidate for every previous mayoral election except 2012, when Boris Johnson ran for his second term. He has finished second on three of those five occasions: to Steve Norris for the inaugural election in 2000, to Johnson for 2008 and to Shaun Bailey for the Covid-delayed 2021 race. He has been an Assembly member (AM) since 2008.
A Tory since his schooldays, Boff describes himself in his Twitter profile as “probably more liberal than you are” and has made a mark by arguing for the legalisation of cannabis to help combat violent crime and for the piloting of a “managed street prostitution area” in the capital to improve sex workers’ safety. Boff, a patron of the Conservatives’ LGBT+ group, became, in 2005, one of the very first people to have his relationship legally recognised through a civil partnership. He is an atheist an a member of Humanists UK
As an AM he has authored an influential report about modern slavery and advocated stronger powers for the Assembly. In 2015 he argued that the boundary of Greater London should be enlarged to include the six counties that surround it.
Boff has been a persistent critic of Mayor Khan’s housing policies, with his belief that there should be more family-sized homes built a recurring theme. He has also joined with Liberal Democrat and Green Party politicians in opposing the Silvertown Tunnel.
He is one of very few London Conservatives to criticise the national government, complaining that it has failed to consult Assembly members about planning and transport policies, and argued that his party in the capital should find “a distinctive voice”. He has also expressed annoyance with fellow Tories outside London “whining” about the city when its economy “subsidises their rural idylls”.
He became a member of Hillingdon Council in 1982 and was its leader from 1990 until 1992. He later lived in Hackney, where he won a council by-election in 2005 but lost his seat at the full borough elections the following year. He currency resides in Barking & Dagenham, where in 2019 he helped rescue neighbours from a burning housing block
Boff voted to leave the European Union at the 2016 referendum and later argued for a so-called Norway-style relationship with it, which would enable UK access to the single market. He backed a change to the Alternative Vote system for general elections at the 2011 referendum about the issue.
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