New Conservative group leader on London Assembly

Neil Garratt is now leading the Tories at City Hall, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Neil Garratt, Conservative leader on the London Assembly
Neil Garratt, the new Conservative leader on the London Assembly

Conservatives at City Hall have chosen a new leader and deputy for their party on the London Assembly.

At their AGM on Tuesday (2nd) the assembly’s nine-strong Tory group selected Neil Garratt as their new leader, who stood uncontested.

Neil has represented the boroughs of Croydon and Sutton on the assembly since 2021. He replaces Susan Hall, who had led the group since December 2019.

Neil said he was “honoured” to take up the post, and paid tribute to Susan’s leadership, crediting her with having “transformed” the party group “into the capable and effective organisation it is today”.

He added that he was “excited to work with my colleagues and Londoners to address the serious challenges London is currently facing under our current mayor, and set out our vision for how we can achieve a brighter future for our city”.

Neil, who grew up on a council estate in the Midlands before moving to Sutton more than 20 years ago, also serves as a Sutton councillor.

In a tweet, Susan said she had “stepped down as leader to focus on other ways to hold this soft-on-crime mayor to account”.

She said that it had been a “huge privilege” to lead the group and that she was “proud of the progress” her party had made “in holding the mayor to account and representing the interests of all Londoners”. Susan remains on the assembly and also serves as a councillor in Harrow, where she was council leader for a period in 2013/14.

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As Conservative group leader, Neil will serve effectively as leader of the opposition on the London Assembly – a body of 25 elected members who scutinise Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London. The assembly comprises eleven Labour members, nine Conservatives, three Greens and two Liberal Democrats.

Neil’s election does not mean he will be the Tory candidate for mayor at the next mayoral election in 2024. He has not publicly expressed an interest in running for that post, though two of his colleagues on the assembly – Andrew Boff and Nick Rogers – have said that they will be putting their names forward.

Former Number 10 advisor Samuel Kasumu is also running for the mayoral candidacy, as is ex-councillor Duwayne Brooks, while Minister for London Paul Scully MP has said he is considering whether to run.

The party is aiming to have a candidate in place for that role by the end of July. They will be up against Labour mayor Khan, who has said he will be running for a third term in office.

At the City Hall Conservatives’ AGM on Tuesday, Emma Best was also elected uncontested as the group’s deputy leader, taking over from Peter Fortune. Emma, who was elected to the assembly in 2021, also serves as leader of the Tory opposition on Waltham Forest Council.

Tony Devenish has meanwhile taken over, again uncontested, as the group’s secretary and party whip – succeeding Neil in the role.

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