A YouTube prankster could help to deny Sadiq Khan a first-round landslide in the mayoral elections, a new poll suggested today.
Niko Omilana, 23, who has 3.4 million YouTube subscribers, is the first choice for City Hall for five per cent of Londoners, according to an ITV London News poll.
He is the second most popular candidate after Mr Khan among the 18-24 age group, where 19 per cent say they are prepared to give him their vote.
Twelve per cent of Londoners aged 25 to 34 also said they would vote for Mr Omilana, who wears children’s sunglasses and whose main policy is to force Boris Johnson to “shush”.
The poll, of a representative sample of 1,004 Londoners by Savanta ComRes, reveals the influence of small party or independent candidates such as Mr Omilana is likely to take the mayoral race to the second round of voting.
Two previous Opinium polls for the Evening Standard have given Mr Khan more than 50 per cent of the first-preference votes, meaning he would become the first mayor to win outright without second-preference votes being counted.
The ITV poll also shows Mr Khan’s lead is shrinking, with a fall in his own support to 41 per cent meaning the gap to second-placed candidate Shaun Bailey, the Tory contender, has narrowed to 13 points.
Mr Bailey is on 28 per cent, Luisa Porritt for the Lib-Dems on eight per cent and Sian Berry for the Greens on six per cent.
Actor and anti-lockdown campaigner Laurence Fox, and UKIP’s Peter Gammons, are each on one per cent - the same as joke candidate Count Binface.
The poll, carried out between April 13 and 19, suggests Mr Khan will comfortably win a second term, securing 61 per cent of the vote against 39 per cent for Mr Bailey once second preferences are added.
The surge in support for Mr Omilana is the most unexpected development in a mayoral race that has been overshadowed by the pandemic – which forced its delay by a year – and then the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.
Earlier this week Mr Omilana pretended to “secure” an interview with BBC London after protesting with a cardboard placard for a day outside Broadcasting House. An interview was carried out and published online but the BBC had always planned to interview all 20 candidates.
His Niko Defence League (NDL) is the LDN abbreviation written backwards, and he claims victory in the May 6 election is “written in the stars”.
YouTube star KSI and TV presenter Maya Jama are among his celebrity followers.
If he secured five per cent of the first preference votes, it means his £10,000 deposit to enter the race will be returned.
In a post on YouTube that has been viewed almost 3.6 million times, he said he was standing because politicians failed to take young people seriously.
He said: “There is no greater leader in the country than me… vote Niko for Mayor or London on May 6 or your breath stinks.”
He had previously vowed revenge on BBC London when his name was accidentally mispronounced “Neeko” when the channel revealed that a record 20 candidates were running for mayor.
The polling, which showed Mr Fox running neck and neck with Count Binface, sparked hilarity on social media.
ITV London will broadcast live the first TV debate between the four main candidates at 6pm on Thursday April 22.