Former Tory leader considering surprise bid to become party’s London mayoral candidate


The former leader of the City Hall Conservatives is considering whether to throw her hat into the ring to become the party’s London mayoral candidate.

Susan Hall told the Standard that she would decide over the next week whether to enter the race to stand against Sadiq Khan as he bids to win a record third term next year.

Ms Hall, a former leader of Harrow council who has been a London Assembly member since 2017, said: “I have not decided whether to put in – I have not made up my mind yet.

“But so many things are wrong with what Sadiq Khan is doing in London. Somebody has got to sort this bloody mess out.

“I know City Hall back to front. I know what needs to be done.”

She pointed to the mayor’s decision to expand the Ulez to the Greater London boundary, despite a majority of respondents to the Transport for London consultation being opposed, proposals to axe the daily Travelcard and levels of violence against women and girls.

Ms Hall has strongly criticised Mr Khan’s oversight of the Metropolitan police and questioned the manner of his decision to remove Dame Cressida Dick as Met commissioner.

“I think Sadiq Khan is vulnerable this time round because he has not listened to Londoners,” Ms Hall said. “As a female, I completely understand the concerns that women have when they go out at night.”

Nickie Aiken, MP for Cities of London and Westminster, and the deputy Tory chairman, is involved in drawing up the shortlist to put to the party’s London membership.

Contenders have to submit their names within the next fortnight after party chiefs decided to fast-track the selection process, with less than a year until the May 2 election.

Ms Aiken told the Standard: “I personally would like to see more women involved. I think we need to have a good cross-section [of candidates].

“With her experience on the London Assembly, [Susan Hall] is one of the people you would expect to put their name forward.”

Peter Fortune, a Tory London Assembly member, said: “I think she would be a brilliant candidate. She is a fierce advocate for London.”

Assembly members Nick Rogers and Andrew Boff have put their names forward, while Minister for London Paul Scully confirmed last month that he was “considering” a bid.

Other potential candidates include Duwayne Brooks – though he is understood to be keen to become Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales – and Samuel Kasumu, who was an aide to Boris Johnson.

However, some insiders believe the party needs to wait for a “big hitter” to give it the best chance of defeating Mr Khan.

Brian Coleman, a former assembly member and well-connected party veteran, said Ms Hall was an “excellent regional politician”.

He said: “I am a big fan of Susan Hall. She works hard for the party in London, and she knows London government at all levels.”

Neil Garratt: elected unopposed as leader of the City Hall Conservatives (GLA)
Neil Garratt: elected unopposed as leader of the City Hall Conservatives (GLA)

Ms Hall’s possible entry into the mayoral race comes after she was replaced after three years as Tory group leader at City Hall by Neil Garratt.

Emma Best, who like Mr Garratt was first elected in 2021, becomes the group’s deputy leader and will chair the influential Greater London Authority oversight committee.

One source suggested that Ms Hall and Mr Fortune, who was the party’s deputy leader and chairman of the budget committee, had been “stabbed in the back”. Mr Fortune has been replaced as budget committee chairman by Mr Garratt.

However this was denied by others. Mr Fortune said he had intended to stand down as budget committee chairman, a role that is traditionally filled by the opposition group leader.

A Tory spokesman said that Mr Garratt and Ms Best had been elected uncontested as leader and deputy leader.