The Conservatives have delayed by six months their deadline for applications to become the party candidate for Mayor of London.
The move is a major embarrassment for Tory leader David Cameron who hailed the open selection process and also risks undermining the six currently declared candidates, allowing political opponents to suggest they lack the full support of party bosses.
The delay comes after only one prominent candidate, London Assembly Member Richard Barnes, put themselves forward and was announced by Party chairman Francis Maude in a press statement.
Maude said the party had “received a number of excellent applications” but that they’d also “received expressions of interest from a number of very serious potential candidates for whom the timescale we originally set is too restrictive.”
According to Maude’s statement the party is now expecting to select a candidate “next spring.”