Former London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey has been talking up his prospects of being in the House of Lords next year, according to multiple well-placed Tory sources, after apparent assurances from Boris Johnson that he would be given a peerage.
One senior Conservative party source said Bailey told people at numerous Tory dinners that Number 10 had promised he would be given a seat in the House of Lords, after performing above expectations in his failed mayoral election bid.
“He’s been going around telling everyone Boris offered him a peerage after the election – he’s convinced he’ll be in the Lords next year,” the source said.
Two other party sources said the former mayoral candidate had been on a Tory party charm offensive in the lead-up to what he believes will be a life peerage in the near future.
A prominent London Tory insider said he has heard Bailey on several occasions make the claim and that it would be an “appalling” decision if Boris Johnson puts him in the Lords as he “achieved nothing” in the mayoral election.
Bailey was often criticised for his gaffes during the mayoral campaign, including for when he tried to politicise the murder of Sarah Everard to attack Sadiq Khan and when he claimed unemployed people would “buy lots of drugs” if a monthly Universal Basic Income was introduced.
Bailey outperformed expectations in the mayoral election and increased the Conservative vote from the 2016 race, despite the capital’s large swing away from the Tories in the last two general elections.
“I don’t think Boris will give him a peerage, because if he wanted to he would have already, but I think a lot of London Tory people would actually be quite happy – it would get him out of the way,” the London Tory insider said.
“I’d personally be appalled.”
Speaking to City A.M. yesterday, Bailey denied that he has had talks with Number 10 about a peerage or that he has been making claims about his future in the House of Lords.
He said he had conducted “some talks” about the future of his role in the party, but “nothing has come to fruition yet”.
Bailey was formerly a Number 10 adviser for David Cameron on youth and crime.
He has been on the London Assembly since 2016 and was chosen as the Conservatives’ mayor of London candidate in 2018.
His mayoral campaign was often riven by internal divisions, with Conservative Campaign Headquarters pulling large amounts of funding and cutting staff just a few months out from election day amid consistent polling that showed he was 20 points behind Sadiq Khan.
There were also rumours, sparked by a Financial Times article, that Tory donors were looking to replace Bailey as a candidate after the election was postponed for a year due to Covid-19.
His election result was above all expectations, with pundits speculating his tough stance on crime and attacks on Khan over increased levies on drivers cut through to voters in London’s outer boroughs.
One minister, and Johnson ally, said making Bailey a life peer would be a poor move by the Prime Minister as he is not widely liked among Tory MPs.
They added: “I think he should be careful about telling people he’s going to get a peerage, because doing that means he almost certainly won’t get one.”
Another minister was more complimentary toward Bailey and said he “has a part to play” in Conservative politics.
Downing Street was contacted for comment.