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Sadiq Khan praises ‘ahead of his time’ Boris Johnson as he defends ULEZ

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Sadiq Khan refuses to pause ULEZ rollout despite legal challenge

Sadiq Khan dished out rare praise for Boris Johnson as he defended his hated expansion of London’s ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ).

The London Mayor highlighted how plans to introduce the zone were first announced by his predecessor when he was in office.

Mr Khan conceded he and Mr Johnson “don’t always agree” but praised the Conservative for being “ahead of his time” on the ULEZ.

The Labour politician made the comments about the Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP – who opposes the expansion – as he defended his controversial decision to increase the area to cover outer London from August 29.

It means more drivers will be forced to pay the £12.50 daily charge for the most polluting vehicles in a bid to improve air quality in the capital.

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Writing for the Telegraph, Mr Khan said: “It is fair to say Boris Johnson and I don’t always agree, but I have to acknowledge that he was ahead of his time when he announced back in 2015 that the ULEZ would be implemented in London.

“It was initially due to come into effect in 2020, but given the growing evidence around the dangers of toxic air, I decided to bring this forward and then expand the zone.”

Mr Khan admitted the ULEZ, which currently only covers central London, is a “contentious issue” and the expansion has “weighed heavily on my mind” during the cost of living crisis.

But he insisted the introduction zone has been a “transformational policy” and “more successful than anyone initially thought”.

He said the “easiest option” would have been to “kick the can down the road” when it comes to the expansion.

But Mr Khan said he was “elected to take tough decisions” and the “cost of inaction would be far too high”.

He said: “And just like with other thorny public health issues in the past, like the measures to protect people from tobacco smoke, I’m confident that expanding Ulez London-wide will be remembered as the right thing to have done.”

It comes as the London Mayor is facing stiff opposition to his plans to expand the ULEZ.

Last month, a High Court judge decided five Conservative-led councils could challenge the plan.

Meanwhile, Tory former Cabinet minister Theresa Villiers is pushing to change the law to allow ministers to intervene in decisions made by the London Mayor about transport and air quality.

And a number of Tories running to be the party’s candidate for next year’s London mayoral elections have vowed to scrap the expansion if they take Mr Khan’s job.

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