News

Khan’s deputy mayor for business quits to run for parliament

Rajesh Agrawal was selected earlier this month as the party’s candidate in Leicester East, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Rajesh Agrawal (credit Greater London Authority)
Rajesh Agrawal (credit Greater London Authority)

Sadiq Khan’s business deputy has stood down from City Hall in a bid to become a Labour MP.

Deputy mayor for business Rajesh Agrawal was selected earlier this month as the party’s candidate in Leicester East.

Agrawal had served in his London role since 2016, having been appointed by Khan shortly after that year’s mayoral election.

“It has truly been an honour and a privilege to serve Londoners in this capacity for the past seven-and-a-half years,” said Agrawal.

“Like millions of Londoners, I arrived in this country with very little and made it my home. This city gave me the opportunity, and with hard work and perseverance, I did well. But I never imagined that I would get the privilege to serve one of the greatest cities on earth as its deputy mayor. For that I will be forever grateful.”

The mayor is now expected to begin a “thorough recruitment process” to find a new occupant for the role, which commands a salary of £141,406 per year.

Khan said Agrawal has “played a leading role in delivering some of the most important achievements of this administration: from the six-fold increase in Londoners receiving the real London Living Wage to the securing of billions of pounds in inward investment and the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs”.

He added: “What makes these achievements even more noteworthy is that he achieved them against a backdrop of Brexit, botched government trade negotiations, the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis.

“The fact that London has come through these challenges in a stronger economic position than the rest of the UK speaks volumes about both our city and the role Rajesh played in championing it.”

Alongside his deputy mayor role, Agrawal also served as chair of London & Partners, the capital’s business growth and destination agency. He led trade missions around the world to promote London’s investment opportunities – including a trip to Japan last month, and previous trips to India and the USA.

Leicester East has been won by Labour in every election since 1987.

The seat was won in 2019 by former Islington councillor Claudia Webbe, a left-winger who lost the Labour whip in 2020 over a charge of harassment. She now sits as an independent, having been convicted in 2021 and losing an appeal against the conviction in 2022.

Webbe was elected with a majority of 6,019 over the second-placed Conservative candidate – a significant reduction from former MP Keith Vaz’s majority of 22,428 in 2017.

In his campaign video while seeking selection for the seat, Agrawal stressed his support for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, saying that the party is now “under new management” and “focused on equality of opportunity”.