Speculation about who might replace Boris as Mayor has largely focused on Labour’s candidate but in recent weeks there’s been signs of that the Tories also might bother to field a runner.
Initially there was talk of Assembly Members Kit Malthouse, Victoria Borwick (also Deputy Mayor of London), Andrew Boff and James Cleverly putting their hats into the ring, but Malthouse has since been selected as for a safe Tory seat and Borwick no longer seems likely to run.
Cleverly hasn’t entirely ruled himself out, but his recent attempt to get selected as parliamentary candidate for Bury St Edmunds cast doubts on whether he sees his future at City Hall.
That leaves just Boff (who also stood in 2008 when the Tories selected Boris), who told me he’d seek the nomination. However few would expect him to ultimately emerge as the candidate.
One City Hall Tory with clear ambitions to replace Boris is his policing deputy, Stephen Greenhalgh.
Talk of him entering the race has been swirling round City Hall for months and, following his recent BBC London radio appearance in which he openly flirted with running, he’s expected to announce his candidacy “shortly”.
It’s fair to say the prospect of Greenhalgh running has provoked mirth from some opposition AMs and incredulity from Tory ones, many of who have repeatedly and publicly criticised his overly partisan approach to dealing with AMs, his lack of co-operation on matters concerning their constituents and his determination to bring in water cannon.
Perhaps in the hope of deterring Greenhalgh from running, many are talking up the prospect of another Boris deputy, Sir Eddie Lister.
When Lister was first hired to fill the vacuum left by the late Sir Simon Milton, many opposition AMs expressed concern that he’d bring with him a “Thatcherite” approach to public spending which focussed only on cutting services and pushing the Tory cause.
But three years later many now speak of him in far more generous terms, crediting him with pushing through the openness and transparency agenda that has made City Hall easier to scrutinise.
And AMs in all parties have genuine appreciation of his respect for their role in holding the Mayor and senior officials to account, most noticeably his intervention to overrule Greenhalgh on the Assembly’s right to question top Met officers.
He’s since intervened to stop Greenhalgh spending money on a standalone website for the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and insisted that its work be included in the new City Hall site currently in development.
On Sunday morning both Lister and Greenhalgh appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show.
One Tory AM told me that the contrast between the pair’s performances – Lister being typically confident and understated, Greenhlagh fidgety and evasive – was too stark to ignore and that Lister should make one further ‘stop Stephen’ intervention and give the party a fighting chance to retain the Mayoralty.
Lister’s made no public comment about seeking his boss’s job, but he’s likely to find himself under increasing pressure to run.