Sadiq Khan's ULEZ expansion could be axed after by-election nightmare

Sadiq Khan’s much-hated ULEZ scheme expansion could be axed after the Uxbridge by-election nightmare as the London Mayor claims he is in ‘constructive listening mode’

  • The Mayor of London has held private talks with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

Sadiq Khan could be forced to scrap his planned expansion of London’s ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) after dealt a fatal blow to Labour in last week’s Uxbridge by-election.

The Mayor of London is now being told by the party’s top brass to think again about the much-hated scheme which has sparked protests from people living in areas where it is set to be introduced.

Mr Khan, who previously said the ULEZ was the ‘right’ way to deal with pollution in the capital, has indicated he could look again at the policy and is in ‘constructive listening mode’.

It comes after party leader Sir Keir Starmer phoned the mayor and told him to consider changing course after it was beaten by the Tories at the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election by 495 votes.

Labour had been in pole position to flip the seat after the resignation of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but furious voters made their views on the capital’s Labour mayor by re-electing a Conservative MP.

Protesters demand an end to plans to expand the ULEZ scheme at a demonstration outside BBC Broadcasting House yesterday

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, pictured at a central London cafe on Friday, has said he is in ‘constructive listening mode’ about the policy

A Labour source told the Times the Mayor has promised to review the policy after talks with Sir Keir, adding: ‘It’s clear Sadiq is going to be reviewing it.’

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It would be a humiliating step-down for Mr Khan, who has been unyielding in his defence of the scheme and previous said clean air was a ‘human right, not a privilege’.

His flagship policy – which will see the £12.50 daily charge on older, more polluting vehicles extended into outer London – came under fire from his party bosses only hours after the dust settled from the by-election in the north west of the capital.

Sir Keir said: ‘We are doing something very wrong if policies put forward by the Labour Party end up on each and every Tory leaflet.’

And the civil war, brought on by fears in the party that its green policies could cost it at the next election, has exposed rifts over how it deals with its big-spending green policies.

Now some of Sir Keir’s top advisers, including his director of strategy Deborah Mattison, have claimed their predictions the ULEZ expansion would lose votes have come true.

One party insider told the Times: ‘At the start of the campaign, there was a lot of talk about it [Ulez] being scrapped. 

‘Of course, this time last year, Deborah was among those who wanted Labour’s logo to be turned green so I can understand why Sadiq is a bit bemused by being told that by her.’

Steve Tuckwell gives a speech after being elected as the Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip on Thursday

Anti-ULEZ demonstrators call for an end to the expansion of the scheme at a protest on Saturday

But the opposition among Mr Khan’s colleagues to the plans has continued to grow. 

Siobhain McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It cannot be right for the Left-of-centre party to be putting all the responsibility on the shoulders of people who can least afford it.’

Oone Shadow Cabinet Minister yesterday warned Mr Khan that, prior to next year’s mayoral elections, ‘he does not want every London Labour MP and candidate against him’. 

Another added: ‘This policy is deeply unpopular. In Uxbridge, it was an albatross around our necks.’

Jubilant Tory MPs credited their wafer-thin 495-vote Uxbridge win to turning the by-election into a referendum on ULEZ.

One Tory source said: ‘Our campaign was basically, ‘Vote for us and Starmer will tell Khan to stop ULEZ’.’

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