Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate ‘not surprised’ Siobhan Benita is backing Sadiq Khan

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Siobhan Benita was the Liberal Democrats’ candidate in the 2020 London mayoral elections but withdrew from the race after the contest was delayed by a year due to the pandemic.

Liberal Democrats mayoral candidate Rob Blackie says he’s “not surprised” that his party’s former candidate is backing Sadiq Khan.

Siobhan Benita, who was the Lib Dem candidate in the London mayoral election originally planned for 2020, is urging party voters to back the Labour Party.

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In an op-ed in the Evening Standard, Ms Benita wrote: “Even though I was the Liberal Democrat candidate for mayor, I’m now urging people who might be considering voting Liberal Democrat to vote for Sadiq Khan.

“The election this time is a two-horse race between Sadiq Khan and the Conservative candidate, Susan Hall. And the choice couldn’t be starker. It’s either Sadiq, who has a positive vision to build a fairer, greener and safer London for everyone, or the hard-right Tory candidate.

The former civil servant wrote: “the only way we can safeguard everything that makes London so special is by voting for Sadiq. This is what I’m going to do – and I urge Lib Dems, Greens and all Londoners to do the same.”

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Former Lib Dem mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita (left) and current candidate Rob Blackie (right)Former Lib Dem mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita (left) and current candidate Rob Blackie (right)
Former Lib Dem mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita (left) and current candidate Rob Blackie (right) | Getty Images/ Liberal Democrats

Mr Blackie, who announced his housing policy in Sutton on Thursday morning, said: “[Siobhan Benita] didn’t vote for us at the last election so it's not really a surprise if she’s not voting for us at this election.

“Conservatives are in freefall in London. Nationally they’re doing terribly and they’re doing even worse in London so there’s no chance they’re going to win.

“But Sadiq Khan doesn’t deserve to win based on his record as mayor on things like crime and housing. That’s why we’re seeing our support go up. We see it on the doorsteps every day but we also see it in the independent opinion polls.”

Ms Benita first stood as an independent candidate in the 2012 London mayoral election, in which she came in fifth place with 3.8% of the vote.

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In 2016 she joined the Liberal Democrats after the Brexit vote and was selected as the party’s mayoral candidate for the 2020 election.

After the pandemic delayed the contest by one year by one year, she withdrew from the race, saying she could not remain in the unpaid role for a further 12 months. 

Her departure forced the Lib Dems to select a new candidate in the form of ex-MEP Luisa Porritt.

Ms Benita later announced she had resigned from the Lib Dems, and said Rejoin EU candidate Richard Hewison was her first choice in 2021’s election.

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Tory candidate Susan Hall on Thursday made election pledges on policing, including the recruitment of an additional 1,500 officers and two new police “bases” in each borough.

The London mayoral election is on May 2, along with the election of London Assembly members. Voters are reminded they need photo ID following the introduction of new legislation.

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