Sadiq Khan claims ‘I’m a strong leader’ to justify ignoring Londoners3 min read
Sadiq Khan grilled on popularity of ULEZ scheme
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Sadiq Khan made a dig at the Brexit referendum on the third anniversary of the UK leaving the EU, as he insisted a “strong leader” can ignore opposition to proposals in consultations. His comments came as the London Mayor accused of hurting the poorest Londoners and driving business of Britain’s capital with a scheme to tax drivers which even councils run by his own party are questioning.
Mr Khan faced furious questioning over his plans to expand the Ultra Low Emmission Zone (ULEZ) charge of £12.50 per day on thousands of drivers amid questions over whether he tried to interfere with a consultation on the plan.
The clashes came in a session with MPs on the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities select Committee in Parliament where the London Mayor was giving evidence.
Eastleigh Conservative MP Paul Holmes took Mr Khan to task on a new driver tax which will hit many businesses, residents in London and people who live outside but need to come into the capital for work.
The Tory MP claimed that 11 councils including five Conservative, four Lib Dems and two Labour (Barking and Dagenham, and Redbridge) had raised concerns about the ULEZ driver tax which was opposed by 80 percent of respondents in the consultation.
But Mr Khan said: “I was elected by the silent majority. I will stand up to those vested intersts [who oppose the ULEZ expansion]”.
In a clear dig at former Prime Minister David Cameron over the EU referendum, the Rejoiner London Mayor added: “There’s a difference. A brave, strong leader doesn’t rely on referenda, to decide policy.
“There was a consultation not a referenda. There’s a weak ineffectual leader who throws red meat to his party because he is scared of [Nigel] Farage. That’s a referendum.
“A bold leader takes tough decisions. I have taken a tough decision and I stand by it.”
There have been claims that Mr Khan tried to supress around 5,000 responses from the Fair Fuel Campaign, who he described today as being a vested interest fossil fuel group.”
The London Mayor denied that 11 councils opposed his plans but conceded that four Conservative borough councils in London plan to take him to court over the consultation.
However, he insisted the two Labour councils are only “concerned about the government’s failure to provide money for a scrappage scheme”.
He also insisted that the poorest in London “who are unable to afford a car” are the people “most likely to be affected by toxic air.”
Mr Khan also claimed that around 4,000 people a year in the capital die prematurely from “toxic air” which he described as “a killer”.
He also insisted his mandate from winning the London election gave him the right to enforce a policy opposed by the vast majority of respondents in London.
This is despite his election victory coming with a turnout of less than half (42.2 percent) of eligible voters in the capital.
But Mr Holmes said: “You are correct, you did win the London election but 80 percent of your constituents are opposed in the consultation.
“You don’t have buy in do you? With that ack of buy in don’t you think it is now time where scrutiny has been given to the consultation which you outlined has been shown to have flaws which you have not been necessarily as forthcoming in answering as you should be.
“Don’t you now think it is time to pause, go back, be transparent in the consultation, listen to London boroughs who are also elected by their constituents, who are concerned about this proposal which will close down businesses and cost lower earning working families more?
“Something you said you cared about in questions earlier where you want people to remain in London.
“Won’t this policy drive people and businesses out of London because you won’t be transparent about the consultation?”
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