Blow for Greens as Siân Berry rules out replacing Natalie Bennett as leader
Focus is now on Caroline Lucas after sole Green MP left door ajar in 2015 interview.
The Green party has been dealt a blow with the news that Siân Berry, its highly-rated candidate for London mayor, will not be standing for the party leadership.
Berry set out her stall on Monday after current leader Natalie Bennett revealed that she is to step down as leader of the Greens this summer.
She will remain in charge until the end of August when her second two-year term expires, but said she was making the announcement now to allow possible successors plenty of time to come forward.
Now, Berry has made it clear that she will not be one of those possible successors. Writing on her Facebook page this morning, she stated:
"I definitely will not be standing in the election for a new leader. I have the best new job in the world as a Green AM that I'm just settling into, with a lot to do here in London that needs my full attention right now.
"Even if the constitution would allow me to do it…I would still be looking to encourage someone else to take up and build on Natalie's legacy, which I'll now be doing.
"If you are as brilliant as her and don't want a more than full-time job inspiring and leading our amazing party then don't answer my phone calls for the next few days!"
In last week’s mayoral elections, Berry was third in the first preferences, but won the largest number of second preference votes. She was elected to the London-wide assembly alongside fellow Green Party candidate Caroline Russell.
Bennett’s announcement had sparked speculation as to who would be the next leader, with many supporters taking to Twitter to voice support for Berry. Others had already made the call weeks earlier.
Green Party peer Baroness Jenny Jones has also ruled herself out, saying: "What we need now is some new people to come forward. There is incredible talent in the party who are not well known because they are not elected. We need somebody new to the public – it is so difficult to get known and this is one of the ways of raising profile. I hope to see a good contest."
However Jones was never expected to fare well in a contest, having declared herself in favour of Brexit and also failed to stand up for inheritance tax when she was on BBC Question Time.
Rumours are now circulating that Caroline Lucas, the party’s one MP and former leader, could consider standing again. In an interview with Total Politics last year, Lucas left the door ajar to returning as party leader.
Asked if she would run for the party leadership in 2016, she said: "I never rule anything out."