The Conservatives have exploded with fury at the ‘horrifying prospect” of Jeremy Corbyn running in the 2024 election and becoming the new Mayor of London. The former Labour leader is being urged by his supporters to stand as a Left-wing independent candidate in the next London mayoral election. He could emulate Ken Livingstone, who failed to win the Labour Party nomination for the mayoral elections in 2000 famously stood as an independent and won.
One key ally of Mr Corbyn said the former Labour leader was so popular that he could emulate Mr Livingstone’s success in 2000 and defeat current Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan.
They told The Mail on Sunday: “Jeremy would win and plenty of people around him are urging him to do it.”
But the prospect of Mr Corbyn running in the mayoral elections in 2024 and ultimately coming out on top has triggered a furious reaction from the Conservatives.
Susan Hall, leader of the GLA Conservatives London Assembly, told Express.co.uk: “It is difficult to imagine what would be worse – another four years of failure under Sadiq Khan, or the horrifying prospect of a Mayor Corbyn. Londoners deserve better than this.”
Sir Keir Starmer’s allies have also reportedly reacted furiously to talk of Mr Corbyn mounting a bid to become London Mayor, warning he could split the Labour vote in the 2024 contest and hand victory to the Tories.
Alistair Jones, Associate Politics Professor at De Montfort University Leicester, warned there is a real danger of this happening.
He told Express.co.uk: “If Corbyn was to run for Mayor of London, it would split the Labour vote. The likelihood would be the Conservative candidate topping the first ballot (but not winning 50 percent of the vote).
“The question would then be how the anti-Conservative vote is re-allocated? Depending upon who comes second, will Labour voters back an independent Corbyn, or will Corbyn supporters vote Labour? Will non-Labour voters back either Labour or Corbyn? These are the great imponderables.”
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Professor Jones described Mr Corbyn as a “marmite figure” that could be comparable to previous London Mayors Mr Livingstone and Boris Johnson but is unsure he could generate the levels of support enjoyed by them.
He also warned running as an independent candidate and outside of Labour would mean Mr Corbyn having to develop an “electoral machine” that would be able to challenge both Labour and the Conservatives.
The politics expert said: “As to even the potential of a Corbyn candidacy, this generates interest in the position of Mayor of London. The problem is, as with many candidates to the Left of Labour or to the Right in the Conservatives, Corbyn is something of a marmite figure: people either love him or loathe him.
“There tends not to be a middle ground. The same could be said of Ken Livingstone and of Boris Johnson. Whether Corbyn is able to generate the levels of support achieved by either of those former mayors will remain to be seen.
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Former London Mayor Mr Livingstone has thrown his full weight behind a possible challenge from Mr Corbyn, claiming he would be “bloody good” in charge of London.
He told the Mail on Sunday: “I will support Jeremy whatever he runs for. He’s a man of absolute integrity.”
Mr Livingstone, who denied the antisemitism claims against him, also backed Mer Corbyn to hold onto his Islington North Commons seat as an independent.
The former Labour leader has held the seat since 1983 but he is currently barred from standing there again as Labour’s candidate after claiming two years ago that antisemitism in the party was exaggerated when he was in charge.
Mr Livingstone said: “I’m sure he will win if he stands as an independent. Jeremy’s been there for nearly 40 years – he’s incredibly popular.”
The former Labour leader has insisted his priority is to stand again as Labour’s candidate in his current North London seat where he won with a huge majority of more than 26,000 in 2019.
He said: “I am proud to be the MP for Islington North. The whip was wrongly removed, and it should be restored. So, too, should the rights of Labour Party members to choose who represents them in Parliament.”