LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party said on Friday it had selected lawmaker Zac Goldsmith, who opposes the expansion of Heathrow Airport and might back Britain leaving the European Union, as its candidate for London mayor.
The current mayor, Boris Johnson, stands down after two terms in May next year and Goldsmith’s main challenger to succeed him will be left-leaning Labour lawmaker Sadiq Khan.
“Under Boris, London now leads the world in business, tech, media, art and culture – benefiting from unprecedented investment,” said Goldsmith, who won 70 percent of votes cast.
“It is why so many people want to live, work and do business here, and it is also putting increasing pressures on our city.”
He promised as mayor to invest in London’s transport network while cutting travel costs, and to address a housing crisis to stop Londoners from being priced out of the city.
Johnson, mayor since 2008, recently won a seat in Britain’s parliament and is considered to be a contender for leader of the Conservative Party after Cameron, who has said he will step down before the next election in 2020.
Goldsmith, like Johnson, is a critic of plans to build a third runway at Heathrow, a position which puts him at odds with Cameron and others in the Conservative Party.
Cameron is in a difficult position after pledging to voters before an election in 2010 that he would not allow a third runway, “no ifs, no buts”. In July, a government-appointed Airports Commission recommended the Heathrow expansion.
Goldsmith also holds Eurosceptic views - another possible point of conflict with Cameron who has promised an in/out referendum on whether Britain should stay in the EU by the end of 2017.
Reporting by Michael Holden