Boris Johnson appeared unable to name the Conservative mayor of the West of England during an awkward encounter at a campaigning visit to rally support for the party ahead of next month’s local elections.
Quizzed by a reporter while visiting Gloucestershire whether he was able to name Tim Bowles — the incumbent mayor elected four years ago — the prime minister stumbled: “I’m very much in favour of powerful mayors in the West of England and elsewhere.
“But what I want to see is a stronger Conservative mayor in London and across the West Midlands and West of England and across the whole of the country.”
In a second attempt to elicit an answer to the question, the reporter enquired again: “You have a Conservative mayor in the West of England at the moment, I just wondered if you know who that person is?”
However, the prime minister — unable to summon the name of Mr Bowles — replied: “Well I can tell you I’ll be out campaigning for the West of England mayor, and all Conservative candidates throughout the week”.
Putting Mr Johnson out of his misery, the reporter said: “So you don’t know who Tim Bowles is, your current mayor?
“The reason I ask is because voters are being asked to go to the polls to vote on mayors, metro mayors, police commissioners, local – four ballot papers in some cases. It’s very confusion for people isn’t it?”
The prime minister added: “There’s a very simple solution, is vote Conservative, you won’t go wrong. That’s my answer”.
Mr Bowles became the first metro mayor for the West of England Combined Authority, made up of three of the councils in the region – Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
He announced last year he would not be standing for re-election as metro mayor and the Conservatives have selected businessman Samuel Williams to contest in next month’s election battle.