Minister for London coy on Mayor candidacy

Minister for London coy on Mayor candidacy
Paul Scully credit UK Parliament

Minister for London Paul Scully has confirmed that he is still “considering” running to become the city’s Mayor next year.

Scully set out his stall for the role at a conference event, saying he would “keep London moving”, in an apparent echo of former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s slogan ‘Getting Britain Moving’.

The Conservative MP for Sutton and Cheam said he hadn’t “made a decision yet” on whether to stand, but then discussed a series of policy areas he would focus on if elected to the role, including crime, housing and transport improvements.

Scully had said in January that he may allow his name to go forward if he thought he was the “best-placed person” to have a chance of defeating Labour mayor Sadiq Khan in May next year. He was asked whether he was still considering his candidacy during a Q&A session which followed a speech he had given at the Centre for London’s 2023 spring conference.

He told the audience: “Yes I am considering it, I haven’t made a decision yet, but frankly if we’re going to get London working, if we’re going to keep London as the top city in the world, there are certain things that the Mayor does, and frankly I just want to make sure that they get done, whoever is the Mayor of London.

“That is making sure that first of all, we can stay safe in the city – that’s an absolute, fundamental thing.

“That we can house people, not just ourselves but our children, our grandchildren, people who want to come to this country.

“But also keep London moving, and that’s not just from having great public transport in the centre of the city, because lots of people can’t afford to be in the centre of the city, so we need to make sure that we have good transport alternatives, including the car.”

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The phrase “keep London moving” bears some resemblance to Liz Truss’s slogan ‘Getting Britain Moving’, which adorned her lectern during her one conference speech as Prime Minister. Truss used it to describe her goal of boosting economic growth in the UK, but Scully – who backed Truss for PM – used it in more literal terms, to talk about Londoners’ transport options.

The Minister went on to say that Khan’s planned expansion of the Ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) was concerning to him, because it “drags down social mobility”.

The zone requires drivers with older, more polluting vehicles to pay a £12.50 daily charge to use their cars within its boundaries. Khan is planning to expand the zone to cover the whole of Greater London on August 29, with the goal of improving the capital’s air quality.

Scully continued: “Sutton, my constituency, is the fourth highest borough for people driving to and from work, and it’s not because people don’t want to get on public transport, it’s just that the transport is not there for them to do so.

“So we need greater investment in those alternatives, before you’re having those punitive approaches.”

The Minister added: “So when you’ve got the police in special measures, you’ve got the fire brigade in special measures, you’ve got Transport for London which is in dire financial straits, and you’ve got not enough housing being built, we need a change, and that’s what’s driving me to look at this.”

Scully, who was elected in 2015 after capturing a Liberal Democrat-held seat, has served in Government under Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and now Rishi Sunak. For a period in 2019-2020, he was deputy chairman of the Tory party.

If he decides to run, he could be up against Conservative London Assembly Members Andrew Boff and Nick Rogers, the first of whom has confirmed he is running and the second of whom has said is considering it. Samuel Kasumu, a former advisor to Boris Johnson, has also said he will run for the role.

Khan, Mayor since 2016, has confirmed his intention to run for a third term, as Labour’s candidate.

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