Daniel Korski: Entrepreneur who said London must look to UAE leads Tory mayoral shortlist

He hailed the 'extraordinary transformation' that cities in the Emirates have undergone over the past 20 years

Former No 10 political adviser Daniel Korski said London needed a fresh approach that 'embraces new ideas, new technologies and a positive, entrepreneurial spirit'. Getty
Powered by automated translation

Daniel Korski, a businessman who has called for London to be modelled on Dubai’s open to the world market-led approach, has been shortlisted as a Conservative candidate for the mayoral race in the UK capital.

The former No 10 political adviser has built his campaign on a pledge to “restore the London dream” – and said the city should be looking to the UAE for inspiration.

Mr Korski, who worked for former prime minister David Cameron before entering the tech sector, said a fresh approach that “embraces new ideas, new technologies, and a positive, entrepreneurial spirit” is needed to give London a boost. He said on Sunday night he was “delighted” to enter the next stage of the race.

His bid become mayor of London has been backed by several Tory MPs, including Foreign Office minister Tom Tugendhat and Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove.

The Conservatives announced their shortlist for mayoral candidates on Sunday, naming Mr Korski, London Assembly Member Susan Hall and barrister Mozammel Hossain following a selection process.

Paul Scully, the minister for London, failed to make the cut.

In a social media post that included a photo of Dubai earlier this year, Mr Korski said: “The UAE feels like the new capital of the emerging markets these days, where you’re more likely to meet a Turkish architect, an Indian clean energy expert or a Nigerian businessman than in London, let alone Paris.

He said he has been visiting the UAE since 2004 and praised its “extraordinary transformation”.

The likely front-runner in the race to be the Tory candidate in the election praised Emiratis’ approach to clean energy and emerging markets as he pushed his campaign online.

He is the co-founder and chief executive of Public, a government-focused tech firm which helps clients build digitally-enabled public services.

Mr Korski was born in Denmark to Jewish parents who fled Poland in the 1960s and serves as vice president of the Jewish Leadership Council.

Mr Scully announced his candidacy last month and was seen as a front-runner for the nomination. He said he was “disappointed” by the decision but praised the “incredible” support his short-lived campaign had received.

Seen as an ally of Boris Johnson, Mr Scully had said he would look to follow in the footsteps of the former prime minister in a bid to “reach out beyond” tribal lines if he was selected.

The contestants will face off in a hustings from Monday until July 3 before Conservative Party members are given the chance to vote for their preferred candidate between July 4 and 18.

The chosen candidate is expected to be announced on July 19.

Labour’s London mayor Sadiq Khan, who was first elected in 2016, is vying for a historic third term in City Hall in the May 2024 election.

Mr Korski said Mr Khan has been “neglecting what makes our city so brilliant” and vowed to usher in a new era of prosperity and “restore the London dream” if he gets into office.

“To achieve this, we need a fresh approach,” Mr Korski said. “One that embraces new ideas, new technologies, and a positive, entrepreneurial spirit.

“That's why I'm standing to be your candidate for mayor. So we can have a London mayor with the experience, the tenacity, and the forward thinking to supercharge and unlock the full potential of our magnificent city.”

Mr Korski has said if he becomes mayor he will cancel Mr Khan's decision to expand Ulez, the controversial ultra-low emission zone, to all 32 London boroughs from August 29. Under the scheme about 700,000 more drivers will face a daily £12.50 ($15.72) fee.

Updated: June 12, 2023, 2:52 PM