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Britain’s longest serving mayor deselected in favour of Momentum-backed candidate

The Labour mayor of the London Borough of Newham has been deselected by his party after more than two decades in the role.

Sir Robin Wales, the current longest serving mayor in Britain, will be replaced by Rokhsana Fiaz, who is backed by many in the Labour party, including the influential left-wing group Momentum.

Fiaz has been a councillor for four years and has promised to commit to new affordable homes in the borough, with a target of 1,000 houses over the next four years.

She won the selection vote with 861 votes, around 350 more than Wales, who has held the position for 23 years and has been Newham’s only directly elected mayor, since the role was introduced in 2002.

In a statement, Wales congratulated Fiaz on her campaign, but said the local Labour Party had become fractured in recent months and had “fallen into internal sniping and disputes, often based on untruths.

“Rokhsana has made some ambitious promises that clearly Labour members supported, and I look forward to seeing Rokhsana face the bigger test of putting these ambitious targets to the residents of Newham,” he said.

The news follows a string of mayors and council leaders who have left their roles within the last few months, including Haringey leader Cllr Claire Kober and Harlow leader Cllr Jon Clempner, who both cited disputes with Momentum as part of their decisions to step down.

Following her selection, Fiaz sent her “deepest thanks” to local Labour Party members for their votes and said she was looking forward to the local elections in May, where she is tipped to become the borough’s next mayor.

Top image: Dominic Lipinski PA Archive

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