Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith has announced his intention to stand as the Conservative party’s candidate for London mayor.
Goldsmith entered the Commons at the 2010 general election when he unseated former Liberal Democrat mayoral runner Susan Kramer. At last month’s election he increased his majority from 4,091 to 23,015 and took 58.2% of the vote.
Many City Hall observers believe he represents the party’s best chance to retaining the mayoralty when Boris Johnson steps down next year thanks to his proven success in winning over Liberal Democrat voters and likely appeal to Green Party voters.
To win the mayoralty a candidate must secure 50.1% of the votes cast, meaning cross-party appeal is essential if a candidate is to pick up the second preference votes needed to cross the finishing line.
Mr Goldsmith told the Evening Standard that he would ballot his local constituents before making a final decision on whether to stand.
He said: “I have just been re-elected as MP and it’s important to know whether or not my constituents are happy for me to run for mayor. They must have the right to say no and it is now up to them to decide without interference”
If he does run his campaign will focus on transport, housing, policing and the environment.
Goldsmith’s announcement has been welcomed by Michael Liebreich, a Transport for London board member and founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance who was previously touted as a potential mayoral candidate.
Mr Liebreich told MayorWatch: “I am throwing my wholehearted support behind Zac Goldsmith. I am sure he can win in 2016 – Labour should be very worried indeed.”
Another touted Tory runner, Nick de Bois, also pledged his support to Mr Goldsmith tweeting: “Delighted that Zac has announced he will join the race to become the next Mayor of London. I look forward to campaigning for him!”
A spokesman for Tessa Jowell, one of the frontrunners for the Labour nomination, said: “Labour cannot be complacent about London. Labour hasn’t won a major election since 2005 and we haven’t won the Mayoralty in eleven years.
“Labour needs to select a strong candidate who can deliver the change that London needs – and to do that we need to win.
“Through Sure Start and the Olympics Tessa has a record of delivery for London that is second to none, she has the ideas to tackle the housing crisis and inequality that holds our city back, and crucially she can win support from across London – inner city and outer boroughs, Labour members and swing voters.”