Sadiq Khan has won a second term as London mayor, getting the most votes in almost all constituencies that have reported today after opening up a five-point lead over rival Shaun Bailey.
Khan and Bailey had been neck-and-neck in counting over the past 24 hours, which made the race closer than pundits predicted, with the incumbent earlier today on 40 per cent of the vote and the Tory challenger on 35 per cent as of 6.34pm.
Bailey shot out to a shock lead yesterday, unexpectedly winning the most votes in several constituencies expected to vote Labour, before Khan pegged him back.
Green Party candidate Sian Berry is third on 8 per cent, while Liberal Democrat candidate Luisa Porritt was fourth on 4 per cent.
London Elects has confirmed the winner of the London mayor election will be announced at 8.30pm tonight.
The London mayor race has been much closer than many pundits expected, with a Labour source saying there was “no question we are seeing significant impact from turnout and voters believing they could put a smaller party first preference without influencing the election result”.
If nobody gets 50 per cent of the vote in the first round of voting, the election will go to a two-person run-off with second preferences taken into account.
It is expected that many of Berry’s voters will have given their second preference to Khan.
Khan led Bailey in most polls over the past year by 20+ points, however one YouGov poll put Bailey on the eve of the election put the Tory just 12 points behind the mayor.
The early results sent fears through Khan’s campaign that a low turnout could deliver a shock upset victory for the Tories.
A senior London Tory party source told City A.M. yesterday that a Bailey victory was unlikely, but that Bailey had “acquitted himself really well”.
“He’s tapped in to what people are talking about – he’s had his ear to the ground and he’s tapped into something in London,” they said.
“He’s been talking about knife crime, about violent crime where Sadiq Khan just keeps blaming the government for it.
“He’s a bright star of the party and he has a lot to give.”
One Labour source said that Khan had no chance of winning the landslide many expected and that “we are seeing the product of lower turnout and complacency from voters who believed it was safe to put a candidate from a smaller party as first preference”.
They added: “Voting patterns have shifted unpredictably across London – in some places our vote is up and in other places it’s down”
Another Labour source said: “While we are hopeful Londoners have chosen to re-elect Sadiq as their mayor, we remain concerned that turnout, combined with voters believing they can afford to put smaller parties first without consequence, means it is not impossible that the Tories sneak over the line.”
Labour were worried in the lead up to polling day about a low turnout providing a surprise upset of the incumbent, however it is believed the early turnout is even lower than the party expected.
Internal Labour polling numbers on Thursday showed in-person turnout was was just 11.6 per cent of the total 2016 turnout as of noon.
The count has finished in all but one constituency, with Khan winning in the North East, Barnet & Camden, Greenwich & Lewisham, Merton & Wandsworth, Enfield & Haringey and Lambeth & Southwark.
Bailey has won in West Central, Croydon & Sutton, Havering & Redbridge, Ealing & Hillingdon, Bexley & Bromley, the South West and Brent & Harrow.
Counting is continuing in the Labour stronghold of City & East.
London Assembly results
Londoners also voted on the London Assembly yesterday, which is a group of 25 elected officials charged with holding the mayor to account.
Fourteen of the members come from constituency elections, while another 11 come from an all of London list with members allocated to each party depending on how their percentage of vote.
Labour candidates have been elected to the assembly in the constituencies of Brent & Harrow, Greenwich & Lewisham, Barnet & Camden, Ealing & Hillingdon, Enfield & Haringey, Merton & Wandsworth Lambeth & Southwark and North East.
Conservative candidates have been elected to the assembly in the constituencies of Croydon & Sutton, Bexley & Bromley, Havering & Redbridge, Croydon & Sutton, South West and West Central.
Counting continues in the three other constituencies.
In the London-wide vote, Labour lead with 38 per cent followed by the Tories on 31 per cent, the Green Party on 12 per cent and the Liberal Democrats on 6 per cent.