James Cleverly is latest Tory MP to say no thanks to London mayor gig
Why does nobody want to take on Sadiq Khan?
The Tories are desperate to find a seasoned political operator to take on Sadiq Khan in 2020. But in the parliamentary party at least, it is starting to look like nobody is up for the fight.
In recent weeks Justine Greening ruled herself out, following in the footsteps of Ed Vaziey who had previously claimed he could “thump” Khan in any election.
Last weekend, James Cleverly was said to be deciding whether to run, with The Telegraph reporting that he was 50-50 and a friend saying that "he is discussing it with Mrs Cleverly and mulling it over the weekend".
But yesterday, the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush noted that the Brexit-supporting Cleverly would not exactly have Labour strategists quaking in their boots in the capital.
And now the Braintree MP has said no thanks as well.
Cleverly made his announcement on Twitter in typically bloke-ish fashion, telling a fan: "Sorry mate. Love being the MP for #Braintree, love being Dep Chairman of @Conservatives."
He then decided to lay into the Labour mayor anyway, branding Khan "weak, petulant, and disappointing".
The recipient of the message had previously implored action man Cleverly to stand by comparing him to James Bond…
With the deadline for applications looming and Greening, Vaizey and Cleverly (and Karren Brady) all refusing to spearhead the Tory mayoral effort, it is now looking highly unlikely that the party will have a parliamentarian as its candidate in 2020.
Instead Tory chiefs may have to choose between little-known London Assembly Members Shaun Bailey and Andrew Boff, with the even lesser-known former deputy mayor Munira Mirza also mooted as a possible candidate.