Actor Laurence Fox announces London mayor election bid

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image captionLaurence Fox said he wanted to get people back to work

Actor Laurence Fox has announced he is going to stand for election to be the next Mayor of London.

Mr Fox - who is leader of the Reclaim Party - said if elected he would lift lockdown the day after the elections are held on 6 May

He said he wanted to get people back to work as soon as possible.

"Both the main parties are competing in this dreary race to be the last to set the country free," he said.

The Coronavirus Act states only the prime minister can end lockdown.

LONDON'S ELECTION: THE BASICS

What's happening: On 6 May people will vote to elect a mayor as well as 25 members of the London Assembly. Together, they make up the Greater London Authority (GLA), which governs the capital - you can register to vote here.

What difference does it make? The mayor has a £19bn budget and is responsible for Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police, and has a role in housing, planning and the environment. The London Assembly holds the mayor to account by examining their policies. Find out more here.

Who is standing? London's current mayor, Labour's Sadiq Khan, is seeking re-election and his main challenger is Conservative Shaun Bailey, but there are 18 others running.

In a statement announcing his candidacy, Mr Fox said he made the decision to stand for election after the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in the budget that the government had borrowed £407bn to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

He added that it amounted to "roughly £1,600 for every family in the country".

"Every week that goes by without lifting lockdown means more lost jobs, more lost businesses and even more taxes in the future.

"The government has said vaccines are working, hospitalisations and deaths are tumbling, but we are still being told we won't be able to resume normal life until mid-summer at the earliest.

"Both Tory and Labour have got this badly wrong. I want London - and indeed the rest of the country - to be allowed to get back to work and play immediately, not by late June."

'Cannot risk'

When asked if Mr Fox would break the law to end lockdown should he be elected, his spokesman said: "If Laurence comes from nowhere to win the Mayor of London election on an 'end lockdown now' platform, the prime minister will have to listen and act on the May 6 vote."

A spokesperson for the current Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "The number of COVID-19 cases in London remains high and our heroic NHS staff are still under real pressure.

"The power to introduce lockdown lies with the government and it's right that ministers are taking a cautious approach to the easing of lockdown restrictions.

"As the vaccine roll-out takes place and case numbers in London remain higher than when restrictions were lifted last summer, we cannot risk a further surge in cases which would put lives, the roadmap out of lockdown, and our economic recovery at risk."

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image captionThe election will be held on 6 May after it was postponed for a year due to the Coronavirus pandemic

The Reclaim Party said a survey carried out on its behalf by Savanta ComRes found more than half of all Londoners want the national lockdown lifted by the end of May, with young people in the capital even keener on a swift exit from lockdown than the older generation.

They said the poll saw 1,002 London adults, aged 18 or older, interviewed online from 18-22 February.

Mr Fox faced a backlash online in November for a tweet in which he claimed to have had people over for dinner and appeared to criticise the NHS.

"Just had a large group over to lunch and we hugged and ate and talked and put the world to rights," he said.

"If the NHS can't cope, then the NHS isn't fit for purpose."

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