In Brief

Could Nigel Farage win London mayoral race?

News the former Ukip leader might stand in 2020 has caused concern in Tory circles, by joy for Labour

Nigel Farage has said he is considering running for mayor of London in 2020, claiming it would be an opportunity to “make arguments” on a high-profile platform.

The former Ukip leader said he had been “encourage to [stand] by a group of people”, and boasted that if he did he could push the Conservatives into the third place.

“I haven’t said no to it, I’m thinking about it” he said. “The Tory party are very actively aware that if I did stand, they would probably come third, and they are afraid of that.”

One senior Conservative official told the Financial Times, which broke the story, that “Downing Street was already braced for electoral embarrassment should Mr Farage enter the contest”.

With the Tory shortlist comprising three relative unknowns: London Assembly members Shaun Bailey and Andrew Boff and Ealing councillor Joy Morrissey, incumbent Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan is widely seen as the frontrunner despite criticism of his tenure, especially around rising crime levels in the capital.

Khan and Farage have repeatedly clashed, most recently over City Hall’s decision to let a blimp in the shape of a baby Donald Trump fly over Parliament Square during the US president’s visit. Yesterday, it was announced that a Sadiq Khan Baby Blimp, funded by free speech campaigners, will launch over London this weekend.

Could Farage win?

One Farage ally noted that nearly twice as many people backed Brexit in London in June 2016 than voted for Khan a month earlier, meaning there could be an opening for a strong pro-Leave candidate.

“The three Tory candidates are so poor… no one expects any of them to win, if you have televised hustings it would just come down to Nigel versus Sadiq,” they said.

Farage has served three terms as a Ukip MEP, leading the party for ten years before stepping down in the weeks following the Brexit referendum. But with Britain set to formally leave the EU next year, he will be out of a job come March and has been pursing various potential avenues.

A close ally of Donald Trump, Farage has become a regular on conservative US news channels, and has reportedly also met former Trump strategist Steve Bannon as part of a European ‘Movement’ of right-wing populist leaders.

Yet with his hard-fought Brexit dream floundering, earlier this month he announced a return to frontline UK politics by joining the Leave Means Leave Brexit campaign tour to fight Theresa May’s Brexit Chequers plan.

Having tried, and failed, to be elected to Parliament on no less than seven occasions, Politico’s Jack Blanchard summed up what many people are thinking when he said: “Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the polling booth… Nigel Farage is considering a run to be mayor of London.”

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