Harrow’s Labour Group has elected a new leader, less than a week after it returned a record number of councillors at the 2018 borough elections.

Cllr Graham Henson, who was responsible for the environment in the previous administration, was selected at the group’s annual general meeting last night.

He defeated Cllr Sachin Shah, leader for the past two years, by 22 to 13 votes.

Cllr Henson will be put forward at the first full council meeting on May 24, where he hopes to be appointed leader of the council.

“I am immensely proud to have been chosen to lead this outstanding group of councillors," he said. 

"I am passionate about the people and places of this fine borough, and the hugely valuable services this council provides – as many of you know from my 12 years representing the people of Roxbourne.

"There are some extremely talented new Labour councillors here in Harrow and I look forward to working with them and all our staff and residents in the years to come, building on the great work led by David [Perry] and Sachin over the past four years.”

Veteran councillor Phillip O’Dell offered his congratulations to the new leader on social media, and thanked Cllr Shah for his work.

But Cllr Paul Osborn, leader of Harrow Conservatives, said the result can only be described as a “coup” and criticised the decision.

He added that it was a case of “Momentum flexing its muscles in Harrow” and suggested that the move was engineered by the “hard left” of the party.

“As far as I can see, Harrow Labour is now a combination of ‘Momentum-types’ and people from the hard left with Graham as the face,” he said.

“It’s outrageous, really. Sachin has won an election, everyone’s stood around him and said how wonderful he is, and then they’ve knifed him within days.”

Cllr Shah said he had faith in his successor and vowed to continue working hard in his role as a ward councillor. 

He said: "It’s been my privilege and pleasure to have spent the last two years as leader – and while it is now time for me to hand over the torch, I will still be here, working hard for the people of Queensbury.

"I couldn’t have asked for a better group of colleagues and staff to work with, and I am so proud of all we have achieved together. I know Graham will do a great job for years to come.”