Penny Mordaunt dismisses claim Sadiq Khan is a ‘dictator’ over Ulez expansion
Penny Mordaunt has dismissed suggestions from the Tory backbenches that Labor Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is a “dictator”.
The Commons Leader disagreed with Tory MP Bob Blackman, who opposed Mr Khan’s plans to expand the capital’s ultra-low-emission zone (Ulez).
Ms Mordaunt insisted the mayor could be voted out due to the “immense difficulties” attributed to the Ulez expansion.
Mr Khan announced in November last year that the ulez would be extended to the entire capital from August 29, 2023 to improve air quality.
In response to Mr Blackman, the Commons Leader said: “In relation to the title bestowed upon the Mayor of London by the Honorable Lord, which is causing some unrest throughout the Chamber, I would say that I disagree with the Honorable Lord.
“The Mayor of London is not a dictator.
“The Mayor of London can be voted out of office and I would encourage people to do so because I think some of the policies that he has put in place are creating really immense difficulties, not just for residents but for businesses in London and beyond .”
She added: “We need to allow people to make those transitions and for those people who are particularly at this point where they have really low liquidity in their businesses and in their households, I think a more sensible and considered way of doing it approach might be appropriate. ”
Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans said: “I would just like to remind members of Mr Speaker’s (Sir Lindsay Hoyle) strict regulations on moderate language, Mr Blackman.”
Calls were heard from the Labor benches for Mr Blackman to apologize and some Labor MPs accused him of laughing.
Harrow East Mr Blackman had previously told the Commons: “Today is the deadline for local authorities outside London to join the dictator Khan’s unreasonable calls for cameras and other Ultra-Low Emission Zone signage in their boroughs set up.”
He said the decision will affect “more or less the whole of the south-east of England” and asked for a debate in the House of Commons “so that we can have our say and send a very strong message to Dictator Khan that he should not implement this directive”.
Elsewhere in the debate, the Labor Frontbench protested when Tory MP Elliot Colburn claimed Mr Khan had “possibly lied to the London Assembly”.
The claim follows allegations by City Hall Tories that Mr Khan ‘rigged’ the final results of a consultation on Ulez expansion by excluding some so-called ‘campaign responses’, reducing opposition in the final count from 62% to 59% .
The Conservatives also claimed Mr Khan and his deputy made “untruthful and dishonest” comments when they told the London Assembly they had not been informed in advance of the interim results of the consultation.
After an event at City Hall, Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis suggested that the Ulez requirement to help people with rising costs of living should be “softened”.
After joining the Mayor to answer questions from a London audience on the cost of living crisis, Mr Lewis told LBC: “We are talking about the cost of living here and it is clearly always going to be difficult to introduce a new fee in the midst of a cost of living crisis.
“So I’m hoping that there will be some mitigation, and I’m using that word deliberately and politically, some mitigation of the ulez requirement to help those people who are struggling with the cost of living.”
In response to the Commons debate, a spokesman for the Mayor of London said: “With around 4,000 Londoners dying prematurely each year from toxic air, the Mayor is extremely disappointed that some of the capital’s MPs are not supporting the ULEZ.
“This targeted measure will affect less than one in five vehicles on the outskirts of London, but it will keep children out of hospital and save lives.
“The Mayor made the decision to expand the ULEZ after reviewing TfL’s full final report on the consultation responses and made a number of changes to the program following feedback. This included tackling cost-of-living concerns with a £110m scrapping scheme for low-income Londoners and extending exemptions for disabled Londoners.”