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Tuesday 17th
posted by Luke James in Britain

Lucas tipped to succeed woman who headed ‘Green surge’

NATALIE BENNETT announced yesterday that she will stand down as leader of the Green Party this summer.

The Australian-born ex journalist, who took the post in 2012, said she would not seek a third term in July, when the party is scheduled to hold its biennial leadership election.

Ms Bennett said she intended to remain in full time politics but wanted to “focus a bit more on the issues I’m very passionate about” such as sustainable food production.

“The Green Party leadership isn’t like it is in other parties,” she told the BBC’s Daily Politics show.

“It’s not a greasy pole where people scramble to the top and cling there.

“I’m opening up the space for other people to come forward.”

Caroline Lucas, the party’s only MP, was installed immediately as odds-on favourite with the bookies and will come under huge pressure from members to put her name forward.

She gave up the post in order to defend the Brighton Pavilion seat she won in 2010 but may feel able to give more time to the party strategy after retaining it with an increased majority last May.

But Ladbrokes reported that it had taken more bets on deputy leaders Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali and party work and pensions spokesman Jonathan Bartley.

Sian Berry, newly elected as a London Assembly member, would also have been among the favourites for the post but is barred from standing because she has not been a member continuously for the past four years.

Nominations open on June 1, formal campaigning will begin a month later and the month-long ballot among members will start on July 24.

The new leader, who will earn £24,000, will be unveiled at the Greens’ annual conference in September.

He or she will inherit a party that has grown from 12,000 members to 60,000 as part of a “Green surge” under Ms Bennett’s tenure, in which the party registered a million votes at a general election for the first time and achieved its best result in the London mayoral election earlier this month.

However, the party lost seats in this month’s English local elections and has been losing members to Labour since Jeremy Corbyn became leader.