A campaigner against fuel tax rises has launched his campaign to be the next mayor of London – and insists he can beat Sadiq Khan.
Howard Cox, who founded FairFuelUK in 2010, has abandoned a near lifelong habit of voting Conservative by standing as the Reform UK candidate in the 2024 mayoral race.
His efforts have put pressure on successive chancellors not to raise fuel duty, which has been frozen since 2011, though he has not run for office before.
If elected, he wants to scrap the ultra low emission zone (Ulez), phase out low traffic neighbourhoods and scale back 20mph speed limits.
Before Wednesday’s campaign launch, he said some Conservative politicians told him it is a “shame” he is not their candidate and the party would “win easily” if he ran as a Tory.
Mr Cox told the PA news agency: “I can’t sit around any longer and watch our beloved capital being ruined by the wrecking ball Mayor Sadiq Khan.
“He is just using motorists as an easy cash cow and introducing a scheme – even more of the scheme – which is simply fleecing motorists and drivers to pay off his appallingly managed … administration in London.”
Asked why he is standing for the Reform Party and not as an independent or Conservative, Mr Cox said: “(Reform leader) Richard Tice convinced me because they support motorists and drivers, they’re looking to scrap the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales, they want a 20p cut in fuel duty and they also want to scrap Ulez.
“I’ve been working very closely with Tories, I’ve got some great Tory supporters but frankly they have left FairFuelUK supporters.
“In essence, I can’t support Tories despite the fact I have voted for them for the last 50 years.
“I have had a lot of comments from some Tories since I announced yesterday that I am standing.
“I have had a lot of conversations with people (in the Conservatives) who have said, ‘It’s a shame we haven’t got you on board, Howard. If we did, I think we would win easily.’
“At the moment, I don’t believe the Tories can win. After seven years of Sadiq Khan, they haven’t been able to beat him.
“I think Reform UK picked me because they think I can beat Sadiq Khan. I have a huge following across the country and about 100,000 supporters in Greater London.”
Asked if he has become a Reform UK member, Mr Cox said: “I think I am. I assume I am. I have done all the bits of paperwork.”
He added: “I’m fully aware of the type of people that are in Reform UK. People like Nigel Farage… He’s a pretty powerful influencer.”
A bus was hired for the campaign launch and was meant to be driven from Smith Square in Westminster to City Hall – but did not turn up.
Mr Cox’s campaign said its fuel may have been stolen.
Later, he was interviewed by Mr Tice and posed for pictures in the taxi.
Mr Tice told PA: “He’ll be an electoral asset because he’s got the courage to tell it as it is.
“He’s been round the block a few times. He’s got great support among tradespeople, motorists, ordinary folk who have been so damaged by Sadiq Khan’s woeful policies, particularly with regard to transport.
“The simple statistic that London is now the slowest large city in the world after seven years of Sadiq Khan tells it all.
“We can do so much better – but to do that we need a mayor who is going to act and get London moving.”
Reform UK is the successor party to the Brexit Party, which was founded by Mr Farage during the UK’s EU withdrawal negotiations.