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Rishi Sunak Appears to Distance Himself from Conservative London Mayoral Candidate Susan Hall

‘Has he met her recently?’ Byline Times asked. ‘Not that I’m aware of, no’, the Prime Minister’s press secretary told this newspaper

Susan Hall after being selected as the Conservatives’ London Mayoral candidate on 19 July 2023. Photo: PA/Alamy

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A Trump-supporting hard-Brexiter has been selected as the Conservatives’ candidate for London Mayor – and the Prime Minister appears to have immediately moved to distance himself from her past controversial comments.

Former London Conservative Leader Susan Hall AM has previously backed Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s comments that refugees fleeing war across the Channel amount to an “invasion”. 

Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with these comments on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak’s political spokesperson told journalists: “He would not characterise it in those terms, no.” He also refused to endorse Hall’s previous claims that ousted ex-PM Boris Johnson was an “awesome” Prime Minister. 

The spokesperson also said Sunak “wouldn’t characterise it in [those terms]” over Hall’s comments that Donald Trump supporters – who staged an attempted insurrection at the US capitol on 6 January 2021 – are the equivalent of UK politicians who opposed Brexit. 

Susan Hall has been a long-standing figure in London City Hall politics on the hard-right of the otherwise largely liberal London Assembly intake. Asked if Sunak will campaign for her, his press secretary said that “she has his full support”.

But when quizzed if he has met her recently, the spokesperson added “not that I’m aware of, no” and that he would “check” to confirm that Sunak had met her previously. “I believe he has, yes,” he said.

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A spokesperson for London Labour said: “The Conservative candidate for Mayor is a hard-right politician who couldn’t be more out of touch with our city and its values. She’s an outspoken supporter of Trump, Boris Johnson and a hard Brexit. She cheered Liz Truss’ mini-budget, which sent mortgages and rents soaring. She doesn’t stand up for women.”

Labour has branded Hall the “extreme Tory candidate, who stands for cuts to London’s public services, inequality and division”.

She gave her full support to brief Prime Minister Liz Truss’ mini-budget last year, which was widely credited with sending mortgages and rents soaring. She has repeatedly backed former US President Trump, and has claimed that “things are totally stacked against” men. 

She even weighed in during a Daily Mail sexism scandal, saying Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner – who was accused of uncrossing her legs to distract the Government frontbench – “uses Sharon Stone tactics”. Stone was one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1990s, famous for her role in racy thriller Basic Instinct

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Hall’s other comments have included her “absolute” support for the Rwanda scheme, saying that she is not a Black Lives Matter supporter, and opposing sportspeople taking the knee over racism. 

Responding to her selection by London Conservative members, Susan Hall said: “It is a huge honour to be the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London. I’m so grateful to everyone for their support… I will work tirelessly to defeat Sadiq Khan and offer Londoners the change we need.”

London’s newspaper, the Lebedev-owned Evening Standard, usually backs the Conservatives – but was muted in its praise for Hall on Wednesday. Its editorial said: “Susan Hall has the experience but to date lacks popular appeal… We congratulate her on her nomination: now let’s see whether she has it in her to give Khan a run for his money.”

When asked whether Sunak believes Hall to be a liability for the Conservatives, his spokesperson said: “No. I mean she’s shown great commitment to bettering London, highlighting the many failures of Sadiq Khan, including his desire to charge people up to £12.50 a day just to visit their GP and she has his full support.”

Susan Hall will go head-to-head with Khan, Labour’s London Mayor, on 2 May next year. 

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