With deadline day of 24 May approaching, the number of hopefuls publicly seeking selection as the Conservative candidate for Mayor next year currently stands at five.
On Thursday, Paul Scully, minister for London and MP for Sutton & Cheam, made his long-expected announcement that he is entering the race and two days earlier businessman Daniel Korski, who was an adviser to David Cameron when he was Prime Minister, launched a bid.
They join London Assembly member (AM) and Harrow councillor Susan Hall, her City Hall colleague Andrew Boff, and Samuel Kasumu, a member of Welwyn Hatfield Council, on the starting line. Another AM, Nick Rogers, has dropped out and thrown his weight behind Scully.
Duwayne Brooks, a former Liberal Democrat councillor in Lewisham who was long-listed for the candidacy by the Tories prior to the last mayoral election, has expressed interest in running for Mayor, but has so far not announced he has joined the field.
Writing for Conservative Home, Scully has accused Sadiq Khan of treating London “as a career platform” and claimed that his experience in government means he is best placed to “liberate this wonderful city and Londoners from the grip of Khan and Labour”.
He also blames the current Mayor for the “enhanced monitoring” by government inspectors of both the Metropolitan Police Service and the London Fire Brigade following damning reports on their cultures and standards, and for the financial difficulties of Transport for London, which he incorrectly describes as “bust”.
Scully, who supported the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, says he would bring about an increase in housebuilding including on large regeneration sites, a reduction in crime and “improve the look and feel of central London” in order to attract more investment.
Korski (pictured) was born in Denmark and moved to the UK in 1997, studying at the London School of Economics and the University of Cambridge. He worked as a war correspondent and for a foreign policy think tank before becoming a political adviser. He campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union, but since declaring his wish to be Tory mayoral candidate has told the right-wing television channel Talk TV that he “not a remoaner”.
In 2017 he co-founded a business which aims to connect technology companies with public service bodies. He wrote at the time: “The U.K. has the potential to become the global center for ‘govtech’ — technology that transforms government services — and capture a £400 billion global market.” Michael Gove praised it as “a brilliant initiative from a brilliant man”. Korski’s wife, Fiona Mcilwham, is a diplomat and “crown servant” whose roles have included being private secretary to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Korski too says he would scrap the ULEZ expansion, but in an interview with the Evening Standard said he would like to replace it with a “pay per mile” road user charging system – a policy plan Khan is already exploring, while warning that the technology required is not yet available. Another Conservative, the MP for Chipping Barnet Theresa Villiers, has criticised the ULEZ expansion as a “stepping stone” to pay-per-mile charging.
Korski has also proposed levying a so-called “tourist tax” on London’s hotel guests to help fund policing. Such a levy has been floated in previous mayoral elections by the Liberal Democrats (in 2012) and by the Conservatives (in 2020) and the potential of the move has been explored by the London Finance Commission. However, a House of Commons research briefing published earlier this year confirmed that, “At present, no legislative power exists to permit local authorities to introduce a tourist tax in the UK”.
The Conservative Party says it will produce a shortlist of up to three candidates from which party members in the capital can choose their candidate. The result is to be declared on 19 July.
Update 09:20, 21 May 2023. This article originally incorrectly stated that Neil Garratt AM was Paul Scully’s election agent. That error has now been removed. Apologies to both politicians.
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