Shaun Bailey will not be replaced as Tory London mayor candidate despite flagging in polls, says minister

Claims of plot to replace candidate dismissed as 'rubbish' by senior Tory

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 10 June 2020 14:18 BST
Business minister rubbishes claims Tory mayoral candidate will be replaced

A senior Tory has dismissed reports of a plot to replace the Conservative candidate in the delayed London mayoral election.

Shaun Bailey, a former youth worker who was selected as the challenger to Sadiq Khan two years ago, was said to have lost support of some Tory donors, who would like to see him supplanted by another candidate.

Sources told the FT that some senior figures wanted an alternative figure, such as ex-chancellor Sajid Javid, to take his place in the contest, which has been delayed until May 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One donor said: “There is no way Shaun can beat Sadiq. He’s a nice guy but he’s barely broken 20 per cent in the polls.

"The year delay means we have the opportunity to reset the race.”

However business minister Nadhim Zahawi dismissed the claims of a plot to oust Mr Bailey, who he described as a "phenomenal candidate".

"Rubbish story," Mr Zahawi told LBC. "Sajid Javid is staying in parliament. Sajid has a great contribution to make to parliament.

"Shaun Bailey is our candidate. He's a phenomenal candidate, phenomenal campaigner and someone who really understands that black lives really do matter.

"Actually he is focussing on what is material, which is the quality of opportunity for all Londoners. That is what Shaun stands for."

Mr Bailey, one of the party's leading black figures, was championed by the-then prime minister David Cameron.

A YouGov poll in March, before the election was postponed, gave Mr Khan a clear lead on 49 per cent, with Mr Bailey trailing behind with 24 per cent of the vote.

Former Tory cabinet minister Rory Stewart, who was standing as an independent, won 13 per cent of the vote. He has since withdrawn from the race.

A Conservative spokesperson said: “The party, including its chairmen, have clearly stated full support for Shaun.

"Shaun Bailey has led from the front in challenging Sadiq Khan's abysmal record on tackling violent crime, building affordable homes and failure to deliver Crossrail.

"He is the only candidate that can defeat Sadiq Khan next year and fix the current mayor's litany of failures for Londoners.”

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