Sadiq Khan Is Expected To Widen His Lead Over Shaun Bailey After Friday Night Jitters
Signs of low turnout in London have created nervousness in Sadiq Khan's campaign but the mayor is expected to increase his lead over Tory challenger Shaun Bailey on Saturday on his way to being re-elected.
The London mayoral election took a shock twist on Friday when sources in Bailey's campaign briefed journalists that they believed they could pull off an almighty upset and defeat Khan.
Khan, who became Labour mayor of the capital in 2016 after defeating Conservative Zac Goldsmith, had been expected to enjoy a comfortable victory over Bailey in the run-up to Thursday's vote.
Earlier this week an Opinium poll put Khan on 63% of the vote once first and second preference votes had been counted, compared to 37% for Bailey.
A London mayoral candidate needs 50% to win the contest.
However, Bailey on Friday had surprise first preference leads over Khan in both Brent & Harrow and Ealing & Hillingdon, where the current mayor won in 2016.
A source in Khan's campaign last night insisted "we always said it would be a close election".
"There is no question we are seeing significant impact from turnout and voters believing they could put a smaller party first preference without influencing the election result," they said.
"There are still half of London boroughs to count and it’s too early to say anything with any certainty at this stage".As well as concerns over low turnout, there is also a belief that Labour has lost some of its 2016 support to the Greens, who are showing signs of surging both in the capital and nationwide.
Votes counted at the time of writing put candidate Sian Berry at 8%, compared to the 5.8% of the vote she secured at the last London mayoral election.
Khan had a lead over Bailey of nearly 25,000 votes when counting was paused last night.
The current mayor is expected to widen his lead over his main challenger today.
Five of the seven constituncies left to declare, which include Greenwich & Lewisham in south London and Barnet & Camden in the north, are Labour-held and expected to lean towards Khan.
A figure in the Green campaign said sources close to Khan had over-exaggerated the closeness of the contest, telling PoliticsHome: "He's not in as much trouble as his team has been briefing".
The result of the London mayoral election is expected to be announced this evening but it could be delayed until Sunday.
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