A former Downing Street adviser to Boris Johnson has emerged as the Conservative front runner for London mayor next year after earning the backing of three party heavyweights.
Energy secretary Grant Shapps and Northern Ireland Office minister Steve Baker, along with former home secretary Priti Patel, announced on Monday they were endorsing Samuel Kasumu to become the Tory candidate to challenge London mayor Sadiq Khan in May.
Mr Kasumu served as special adviser to then-prime minister Mr Johnson, where he held the civil society and communities brief.
His work in Downing Street also included leading on the cross-government vaccine deployment confidence programme, working alongside then-vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi.
Mr Shapps said Mr Kasumu has London “in his heart”, adding: “I’ve worked with Samuel Kasumu for over five years in my Welwyn Hatfield constituency where he has been a hardworking councillor.
“He has served distinctively both as a councillor and more recently as cabinet member for climate change and the environment.
“If Samuel is selected as the Conservative mayoral candidate he will be severely missed in Welwyn Hatfield, but it has always been clear that London is in his heart.
“The capital is both where he was born and where he grew up. I wish him all the best and look forward to supporting him in his next phase.
Ms Patel described Mr Kasumu as “authentic” and “hardworking”, and said he has a “deep commitment to improve the lives of London’s citizens and bringing communities from across our great City together”.
Mr Kasumu said: “I am delighted to have these endorsements. Very soon London Conservatives will have the opportunity to select the candidate they feel is best suited to pull off one of the greatest upsets in modern political history.
“I believe that person is me, and I look forward to making the case in the coming weeks and months.”
By John Besley, Press Association
Electing the next London mayor
The next Mayoral and London Assembly elections will take place on Thursday 2 May 2024,.
There are three different ‘contests’ that make up London GLA elections – and three different ballot papers for voters. These are for:
- the Mayor of London
- the 14 Members of the London Assembly that represent London’s 14 Constituencies
- the 11 Assembly Members that represent the whole of London (London-wide Members)
The Greater London Returning Officer (GLRO) is responsible for overseeing the three contests, including the preparations for the poll and the counting of the votes. The GLRO is appointed by the Mayor but acts and takes decisions independently of the GLA – and is ultimately responsible to the courts. The GLRO is also the Chief Officer of the GLA – Mary Harpley.