The Sunday Times reports the Tories are lining up former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to replace Boris at London’s City Hall.
Predictably the story has excited many but there are a few legal problems with a Bloomberg candidacy, starting with the fact that any would-be Mayor needs to be a UK, Republic of Ireland, Commonwealth or EU citizen.
We know Bloomberg doesn’t hold UK citizenship because he’s not entitled to be called ‘Sir’ despite receiving a knighthood.
So to be able to stand he’d need a request for a UK passport to be fast-tracked or would have to reveal a hitherto unknown relationship with another EU or Commonwealth country and gain citizenship there.
And he’d need to show that London has been his principal place of home or work for 12 months – this doesn’t seem to be the case – or that he’s personally rented or owned property in London, for a minimum 12 months on the date that nominations open.
Nominations open on March 21st 2016 so he’d need to have already satisfied those criteria as of March 21st this year.
Of course, Bloomberg is a very rich guy so it’s possible he meets the property criteria already but as the UK isn’t his principal home that chucks up another difficulty.
Growing numbers of Londoners want something done about foreign billionaires who buy up homes they only occasionally – if ever – live in.
What sort of reception would a Mayoral candidate who was part of the billionaire absentee property owning brigade receive from voters who can’t afford their own home?
And it’s hard to see many being too impressed at the sight of a party – especially one which promises to cap the numbers coming into the country – shipping in a candidate and then rushing through his passport application.
The casting around for a ‘big name’ has a very familiar feel about it.
Cameron did the same in 2007 when, unimpressed with those who’d put their names forward, he paused the selection process and looked for a celebrity candidate.
Eventually he found a willing player in Boris, but not before a few others turned him down.
It’s too early to know whether the plan could work a second time, but it is clear that Ivan Massow and Stephen Greenhalgh may as well stop campaigning because David Cameron doesn’t want them.