The openly lesbian vice-chairman of the Conservative party has officially ruled herself out of standing to become Mayor of London.
Margot James, who is the vice-chairman of the Conservative party with responsibility for women says that she is concentrating on her campaign to become elected to the House of Commons.
Last month, she was placed on the Conservative party’s “A list” of preferred candidates and is understood to be well placed to secure a safe seat in time for the next general election.
Speaking exclusively to PinkNews.co.uk, Ms James said: “It’s a hard decision but parliament is my goal.” She went on to add: “I feel like I’m letting everyone down but it’s the right decision. The party leadership were very keen on me and a number of others to come forward but I think that I will better serve the party from Parliament.”
Asked if she was put under pressure to stand by the party’s leadership, Ms James said: “I don’t want to attach too much importance to myself but they were keen on me and others standing.”
Ms James, a Chelsea based millionaire, became the first openly lesbian woman to stand as a Conservative candidate when she contested the safe Labour seat of Holborn and St Pancreas at the last general election.
The confirmation that Ms James will not be standing comes as the Conservative leader David Cameron announced that the party are will test an American open primary system to select their next candidate for Mayor of London.
The winner will face the incumbent Labour mayor Ken Livingstone, often praised for his pro-gay credentials. The party hopes that an open selection will encourage minority candidates to emerge including candidates from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community.
Any legally eligible Londoner may stand to become the Conservative candidate for the mayoralty. The winning candidate will be selected by all those in London, not just members of the Conservative Party thanks to the use of text and telephone voting.
“It’s the first time in British politics that such an important post has been chosen like this,” Mr Cameron said earlier today. “It’s a first for the Conservatives. We’re changing our selection process for the mayor to give every Londoner a say.
“Every Londoner who supports our party will have a chance to become the Conservative candidate.
“Head-hunters will be used to encourage potential candidates to apply. And, later in the year, we will be holding a series of public meetings across the capital so that Londoners can quiz potential candidates face to face.
“Then every Londoner will be able to vote by text or phone on who should be the Conservative candidate for the capital’s top job.”
Mr Cameron went on to add: “Too many people are fed up and disillusioned with politics. I hope
that doing things differently will fire the public’s imagination and get them talking and thinking about politics again.”
Those wishing to stand may spend up to £100,000 on their campaign but must not accept more than £20,000 from any single donor including themselves. The application phase of the primary will end on the 4th of August.