Ex-Boris Johnson advisor Samuel Kasumu and former City Hall Tory chief Susan Hall have announced they plan to stand as Conservative candidate to run against mayor Sadiq Khan.
The news came as the party opened the race to decide its mayoral pick ahead of a July 19 deadline, giving the chosen name 10 months to campaign before the May 2024 election.
Kasumu, who is standing alongside running mate Keith Prince, a London Assembly member, has been backed by senior Tories Priti Patel, Grant Shapps and Steve Baker.
Richard Taylor, father of ten-year-old knife crime victim Damilola, who died in 2000, has also endorsed him.
“London is the most cosmopolitan, dynamic, and important city on earth,” Kasumu said. “For the last seven years it has lost its way.
“People feel less safe and less able to live where they wish to.”
‘Common sense’ vs ‘inspiring hope’
He added: “In this age of levelling up, there has never been greater need to reimagine all London could be. It’s time for a new vision that units the city and inspires hope. That’s what I will deliver”.
Kasumu, who says he was the first candidate to declare his intention to run last year, has been widely described as a frontrunner due to his support from top party figures.
But other potential names in the frame, alongside Hall, include minister for London Paul Scully, and Assembly members Nick Rogers and Andrew Boff.
Announcing her bid in a Telegraph interview, Hall said she offered a “common sense” pitch, and highlighted her years of experience going up against Khan at the London Assembly.
Harrow councillor Hall said her key aims were creating a new Met Police unit focused on burglars, muggers and thieves, including mobile phone theft; and stopping the ULEZ rollout.
‘Decade of decline’?
She opposes a referendum on the expansion which she said would cost taxpayers over £3m, but said opposing the controversial road charge cannot be a “golden ticket” to City Hall.
“Not too long ago, London was a safer, happier and more tolerant city,” she said. “It can be that again. If I am your candidate, we will get there.”
Applications will close on May 24, followed by a shortlisting of candidates and a series of public hustings before London Conservative party members vote on their preferred name.
Commenting on the race, Conservative chairman Greg Hands said: “By the time of the next mayoral election, Sadiq Khan will have been in office for eight long years.
“The Conservatives are the only party who can prevent him inflicting a decade of decline on our great city.”