Tories wanted me as Mayor, says Robinson

Party turned to Boris after presenter rejected offer to run against Livingstone

The television presenter Anne Robinson was approached by the Conservative Party to stand for them as London Mayor but turned down the offer, she reveals today in an interview in The Independent.

Ms Robinson, 64, known as the "queen of mean" for her insults to contestants on The Weakest Link , was asked to stand by the Conservatives' director of strategy, Steve Hilton, in 2007, before Boris Johnson had been approached.

"I don't think I've ever revealed this, but, before the Tories asked Boris to be their candidate for mayor of London, they asked me if I'd stand," Ms Robinson said. "Steve Hilton and I were walking on holiday in Switzerland and he asked if I'd consider it."

The Conservative leadership had been struggling to find high-profile candidates for the election, held in May 2008, and at one point interviewed the disc jockey Mike Read, a former presenter of Top of the Pops. He joined (the bottom of) an unofficial shortlist.

The Tory leader, David Cameron, was forced to announce a delay in August 2007 to an "X-Factor-style" selection contest in which Londoners would be able to vote for their favourite choice, after being turned down by a number of high-profile figures. Lord Coe and the former Metropolitan Police chief Lord Stevens were reported to have turned down approaches.

Ms Robinson quickly dismissed Mr Hilton's suggestion. "I wasn't interested," she said. "At the time, there was no candidate and they were obviously casting around. After me, they probably moved on to [Jeremy] Clarkson." Mr Johnson was officially confirmed as candidate a month later, after agonising about whether he should stand.

The Mayor responded to the claim with fighting talk yesterday. Mr Johnson's spokesman said that he would not have been afraid to compete against Ms Robinson for the candidacy. "Boris was the choice of ordinary Conservatives and people in London," he said. "The only thing he said at the time was 'I fear no man', and you can probably add woman to that. Even Anne Robinson."

Ms Robinson said she was also offered a political role by the Conservative MP Alan Clark over dinner – he proposed she be parachuted into a safe Tory seat and could eventually join the Cabinet – but she dismissed it as a chat-up line.

"It was a fabulously clever line," the former journalist said. "It was no use saying to me, 'You're fabulously beautiful, come to bed.' But if you could appeal to my vanity and my having a brain as well ..."

Conservative wish-list: Potential candidates

*Greg Dyke

The ex-BBC director-general was asked by the Tories to stand but would only have done so as an independent. He says Ken Livingstone would have beaten him.

*Mike Read

The DJ and television presenter, 62, was interviewed by the Conservative chairman, Francis Maude. His touting caused concern among senior Conservatives.

*Lord Stevens

The former Met Police chief was reportedly favoured by David Cameron but he was not keen on the role.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine