Karren Brady yesterday announced she intends to become Birmingham's first elected mayor. Chief Reporter Neil Connor gauges the opinion of the city's MPs and reveals who she would be standing for.
Karren Brady and Tory council leader Mike Whitby might not seem like compatible bed-fellows after the Blues boss' recent campaign against council dithering over the proposed City of Birmingham Stadium.
But the prospect of the pair standing side-by-side fighting the city's corner became a real possibility yesterday.
Ms Brady became the first to throw her hat into the ring if the prospect of a directly elected mayor becomes a reality in the second city.
She told The Post's sister paper the Birmingham Mail yesterday the city has "far too many complacent, tremulous, pothole-obsessed politicians".
"We need a Mayor to shout for us because no one else is going to," she said. "If I were a proper, elected Mayor, there would be results. It would be an honour to serve. And no one would have a moment's peace."
But the question of whether she would remain loyal to the blue colours of the club that she has helped transform over the last 15 years remained to be answered.
A source close the 38-year-old managing director of Blues told The Post yesterday she would stand for the Conservatives.
However, just how would the Tories and her soon to be opponents welcome an outspoken critic of the status quo joining the Midlands' political elite?
Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell, who is also the Tory shadow cabinet member for Birmingham, offered words of encouragement for Ms Brady.
"If local people decided in sufficient numbers that they wanted a referendum, and if that referendum determined that the answer is to have a mayor, then Karren Brady would clearly be an extremely distinguished and powerful candidate."
Mr Mitchell would not comment, however, on Ms Brady's credentials as a perspective Tory.
Party chairman, Francis Maude, was equally positive about Ms Brady's qualities, while he refused to confirm whether the Tories would allow her to stand for them.
He said: "Karren Brady's reputation goes before her. She is clearly a very formidable person and would no doubt be an impressive candidate.
"Running a great city like Birmingham is a difficult challenge and I think Coun Whitby has done a great job - and has had to hold a coalition together."
Commenting on the possibility of Ms Brady being welcomed into the Tory fold, Mr Maude said: "We do not have a rigid identikit of who we think would be the best candidate. As for any city, this position requires a combination of qualities."
Launching her campaign yesterday, Ms Brady attacked the current council administration for its record on delivering major projects such as the redevelopment of New Street station, the extension of the Midland Metro and building a new city centre library.
Yardley Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming said: "The areas where Karren Brady is critical are all areas where the decisions are made by the national government or their appointees.
"She says that Liverpool and Manchester get these things - but they do not have a directly elected Mayor.
"She has not put any programme forward for her being a directly elected Mayor - all she is saying is that these sort of decisions should be taken locally."
Mr Hemming also said that local Tory politicians would not welcome their party leader David Cameron telling them to back Brady's campaign.