Samuel Kasumu: Boris Johnson’s former race adviser who hopes to be the next London mayor

Samuel Kasumu has been backed by three senior Conservatives and vows to pause Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion.

Conservative mayoral hopeful Samuel Kasumu believes that timing is everything, which is why he has chosen this moment to put himself forward for the top job at City Hall.

The 35-year-old former Downing Street advisor to Boris Johnson says his experience and background would help him regain Tory voters in London.

Growing up in Barnet, in a single parent home with five siblings, Kasumu became driven for success from a young age.

“I have been able to actualize or get to the position I’m in now because people have helped me along the way.

“And I really am committed to being that person that can help the next generation to also push on in their lives.”

He announced his campaign to become the Conservative candidate for mayor of London in early September 2022 and has since received backing from three senior Tories; Grant Shapps, Steve Baker and Priti Patel.

Career in politics

Kasumu became a member of the Conservative Party at 19, while studying business and accounting at Brunel University.

It was at Brunel that he and his now wife Barbara, co-founded Elevation Networks, a social enterprise that tackled youth and graduate unemployment.

In 2017, he was selected to join Prime Minister Theresa May’s Race Disparity Audit Advisory Board.

During this period he also ran as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Croydon North, although he was unsuccessful.

In 2019 he became the special advisor to then-prime minister Boris Johnson for civil society and communities.

His work in Downing Street included leading on the cross-government vaccine deployment confidence programme, working alongside vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi.

Kasumu resigned in May 2021, after the government published a controversial report into racial disparities in the UK – which found that institutional racism was not present.

The father of two now serves as a councillor in Hertfordshire and is releasing a book called The Power of the Outsider in June.

Top priorities

Kasumu says his priorities, if he wins the candidacy and the mayoral election, are housing and pausing Sadiq Khan’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion.

“I will reopen the London plan so where houses are built and how many I will try to drive house building on land that is overseen by City Hall and TfL,” he said.

“I will hold London boroughs to account for a lot more than they currently are.”

Having set up several business enterprises himself, Kasumu is also keen to help support businesses and entrepreneurs, particularly from underrepresented backgrounds, pledging to launch a £100 million fund.

He wants to offer boroughs affected by the ULEZ scheme the chance to vote on whether to remain in the zone or not.

“Clearly ULEZ is going to be a big battleground subject next year and we’re going to need to make sure we have a clear position,” he said.

Kasumu is also passionate about being a role model for young Black Londoners.

“Every time I see a young, Black male, murdered, or be a perpetrator of violent crime in the streets of London, I can’t help but notice and I can’t help but feel something,” he said.

“I would be very keen to act as a bridge and a role model to deal with some big, big challenges in that area.

“I also want to help to build bridges between the Met Police and communities that they serve that may have significant levels of historic mistrust.”

So far it’s just Kasumu and London Assembly member Andrew Boff who have declared themselves as possible Conservative candidates for the May 2024 elections.

Kasumu says he remains “quietly confident”.

“I believe that timing is so important, and I think this is the right time for me to take that next step and hopefully become the next mayor of London,” he added.

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