Sadiq Khan’s deputy mayor for business has stepped down from his City Hall role, having been selected to contest the Leicester East parliamentary constituency for Labour at the next general election.
Rajesh Agrawal, who was one of Mayor Khan’s first appointees after he was first elected in May 2016, is to challenge for the Midlands seat currently held by former Islington councillor Claudia Webbe, who was elected for Labour in 2019 but now sits as an Independent following a criminal conviction.
Agrawal, 46, became a multi-millionaire in his thirties having arrived in London from India, his birthplace, as a young man and set up the hugely successful foreign exchange company RationalFX.
At the time of his appointment, Agrawal described the UK capital as “a city that welcomed me with open arms and didn’t make me feel like a stranger” – sentiments he has repeated as he moves on, saying he will be “forever grateful” to London for helping him succeed having come with “very little”.
Khan said it had been “a privilege to work alongside Rajesh” and described him as having “played a leading role in delivering some of the most important achievements of this administration”, listing the increase in the number of Londoners being paid the voluntary London Living Wage by employers, and the securing of inward investment against the backdrop of Brexit and the pandemic.
Agrawal also ceases to be chair of London & Partners, the capital’s “business growth and destination agency”, partly funded by City Hall. Its chief executive, Laura Citron, thanked him for his personal support for her and the example set by his “inspiring” personal story.
Webbe, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest political allies, held the Leicester East seat for Labour four years ago with a sharply-reduced vote share, having been selected to fight the seat just a month before the election and shortly after the retirement of previous Labour MP Keith Vaz following the House of Commons standards committee finding he had “expressed willingness” to buy cocaine for sex workers.
The choosing of Webbe as Labour candidate under Islington North MP Corbyn’s leadership prompted the resignation of the long-serving Leicester East constituency party chair, who described the selection as a “fix”. Webbe was suspended from the Labour whip after being charged in September 2020 with harassing another woman. She was found guilty the following October and then expelled from Labour.
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