Daniel Korski enters London Tory mayoral race with plans for tourist tax and to scrap Ulez expansion
Imposing a tourist tax and replacing the Ulez expansion with “pay per mile” road charges were on Tuesday proposed by the latest entrant into the race to become the Tory mayoral candidate.
Daniel Korski, a tech entrepreneur who was previously David Cameron’s deputy head of policy in Downing Street, said it was time for an “outsider” to be given the chance to defeat Sadiq Khan in the City Hall elections next May.
He told the Standard: “He [Mr Khan] is going for a third term when people are increasingly frustrated with rising crime, with gridlock on the streets, with strikes on the Tube.
“People’s emotional reactions range from frustration and hatred to disappointment with Sadiq. I think people are fed up and want something slightly different.”
It came as speculation grew that Minister for London Paul Scully will soon confirm he is throwing hat into the ring.
Nominations close on Wednesday next week, with two or three candidates expected to be short-listed. A winner is due to be announced on July 19.
Mr Korski, who left frontline politics seven years ago and has never held elected office, has also worked as a war correspondent in Libya, where he reported for The Spectator.
He also spent time in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, including working on post-war reconstruction in Basra.
He proposed a small levy on hotel rooms to raise extra funding for the Metropolitan police. The idea of a tourist tax was proposed by the London Finance Commission, an expert body set up by Mr Khan in 2016.
Mr Korski said: “£100m will still get us a fair few police officers. Nobody wants to raise taxes. But one thing that is worth the taxes is tackling the fear that you can’t live safely or visit a city safely.
“There is a real sense there is not enough police on the streets. I don’t think £1 or £2 more on your hotel bill means you are going to go to Paris instead of London.”
He said he was opposed to the imminent Ulez expansion to the Greater London boundary, and said “smart” road user charging could be introduced far more quickly than the end of the decade envisaged by Mr Khan and Transport for London.
“We want a greener city,” he said. “We want a liveable city. Air quality isn’t good enough. But Ulez expansion isn’t the way to do it.
“I think we as Conservatives shouldn’t obsess with Ulez but take a step back. We could use new technology to track the most polluting vehicle journeys,” he said.
“Whether or not you are charging people for the journey or the particular car they have, I think there are lots of different ways technology can be helpful.”
Mr Korski added: “I have come to the view if we are going to solve some of the intractable problems in the city, I think we need an outside approach, not identikit line-ups and not the ‘rinse and repeat’ of yesteryear.”
“I came to this country in 1997. I have lived the London dream. I had a great education. I managed to get a great job. I have a house, family, friends, community.
“The reality today is that more and more people don’t have access to that London dream. It’s harder to get an education. It’s harder to get a good job and progress. If you are trying to get a house it’s almost impossible.
“This London dream is slipping away. I don’t think that is right. I don’t think any of us are going to find success and joy if the London dream is distant for so many people.”
Science minister George Freeman was one of the first to endorse Mr Korski, saying: “Innovation is what drives London – new jobs, a chance to build your own community, and a place where success comes to those who put in the work. Daniel knows what the conditions to bring this together are, and will do an excellent job as Mayor.”
Other contenders include London Assembly members Susan Hall, Andrew Boff and Nick Rogers, plus Samuel Kasumu, a former Downing Street aide to Boris Johnson.
Mr Khan told BBC Radio London: “I think every Tory in London besides Boris Johnson is running to be the Tory candidate. I wish them all the best of luck.”