United Kingdom

Boris Johnson unable to name Tory mayor of West of England

Boris Johnson faced humiliation today after he was unable to name the current mayor of the West of England - despite the regional leader being a Conservative. 

The Prime Minister was asked during a campaign visit to Gloucestershire ahead of local elections next month if he was able to name Tim Bowles, the incumbent mayor who was elected in 2017.

But Mr Johnson failed to name Mr Bowles after repeated questions, with the PM resorting to saying he was 'campaigning for the West of England mayor, and all Conservative candidates'. 

Mr Bowles is the first metro mayor for the West of England Combined Authority, made up of three of the councils in the region – Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

The Prime Minister was asked during a campaign visit to Gloucestershire ahead of local elections next month if he was able to name Tim Bowles, the incumbent Tory mayor for the West of England, but he was unable to do so 

Mr Bowles announced he will step down from the post at the end of his first term, with four candidates running to be his successor in next month's election

The Conservative mayor announced he will step down from the post at the end of his first term, with four candidates running to be his successor in next month's election. 

Mr Johnson was asked if he knew who the West of England mayor is and he replied: 'I'm very much in favour of powerful mayors in the West of England and elsewhere.

'But what I want to see is a strong Conservative mayor in London and across the West Midlands and West of England and across the whole of the country.'

Told that the current mayor for the West of England is a Tory, and asked again to name him, Mr Johnson said: 'Well I can tell you I'll be out campaigning for the West of England mayor, and all Conservative candidates, throughout the week.'

Told that he did not appear to know who Mr Bowles is and that voters could find local elections confusing given they may be voting for councillors, police and crime commissioners and mayors, the PM replied: 'There is a very simple solution, is vote Conservative, you won't go wrong. That's my answer.'

Four candidates are campaigning to be the next regional mayor for the West of England in the forthcoming local elections, which will be held on May 6.

The regional mayor leads the West of England Combined Authority, which has been given powers over spending on the region's transport, housing, adult education and skills.

Businessman Samuel Williams is the Conservative candidate hoping to succeed Mr Bowles, while former MP and minister Dan Norris is the Labour candidate.

Jerome Thomas, currently a councillor in Bristol, is standing for the Green Party, while former Bristol West MP Stephen Williams is the Liberal Democrat candidate.

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