Conservative MP Paul Scully has failed to make it onto his party’s shortlist in the race to take on Sadiq Khan for mayor of London.
The upset saw the minister for London – widely thought of as the likely Tory favourite – snubbed in favour of assembly member Susan Hall, former No 10 advisor Daniel Korski and lawyer Mozammel Hossain KC.
Scully, who has been MP for Sutton and Cheam since 2015, was expected to make the list with big name backers in Westminster including former cabinet heavyweight Brandon Lewis and ex-City Hall Conservative leader Gareth Bacon.
He told City A.M.: “While I’m disappointed by today’s decision, I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude to Team Scully, the many volunteers, activists, councillors, assembly members and MPs across London who supported my campaign.
“Your dedication and scale of support has been incredible.”
It comes after a weekend of national political turmoil, sparked by the shock resignation of former prime minister Boris Johnson, and allies Nadine Dorries and Nigel Adams, forcing the Conservatives into three unwanted by-election battles.
One City Hall source speculated that the recent drama had “infected” the selection process.
Hall, also a former City Hall Tory group leader, and fierce Khan opponent, said she felt “honoured” to have made the shortlist.
“I am the candidate Sadiq Khan fears the most, because I will expose him, defeat him and clean up the mess he has left behind,” she declared, adding: “You are #SaferWithSusan.”
While Korski, former deputy head of the No 10 Policy Unit under David Cameron, and current vice president of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “I’m delighted to have made it through to the next phase of the selection process for the London mayoral candidacy.
“Our campaign is about rebuilding the London dream. I’m glad to have received such fantastic support.”
Hossain has a lower profile than his two rivals, and does not currently appear to have a social media presence. He is noted as a patron of the Society of British Bangladeshi Solicitors (SBBS).
He is described on his chambers website, 187, as having been involved in “some of the most complex and high-profile cases in the country” and a “powerful trial advocate”.
His bio states he was born in Bangladesh, came to the UK in 1995 and in 2019 “became the first Bangladeshi-born criminal barrister ever to be appointed Queen’s Counsel”.
City A.M. has contacted Hossain for comment.
Commenting on the shortlist, a Labour source said: “Londoners know exactly what the Tories are about – a cost of living crisis, soaring housing costs, and bringing our public services to their knees.
“Their shortlisting process has been a circus, and the candidates represent more of the same approach that we’ve seen over the past 13 years of Tory government.
“Whoever the Tories select as their candidate, Sadiq will be proudly campaigning on his record delivering for Londoners – making our city greener, building record numbers of council homes, continuing to tackle violent crime and its causes, and giving primary children free school meals.”
London Tory members will now select a final candidate, with hustings set for mid June to early July, and voting between 4 and 18 July.
According to Guido Fawkes, the remaining unsuccessful candidates were Andrew Boff, Natalie Campbell and Christian May, a former editor of City A.M.
The successful final candidate will then be announced on 19 July, 10 months before the May 2024 election, which will see them fight to prevent Khan securing a record third term.
Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands said: “All three of these individuals have shown great commitment to fighting Sadiq Khan and to bettering London with the Conservatives.”