Tuesday, 18 May 2021

‘London for the super-rich!’ Sadiq Khan savaged over huge public spending and tax hikes

Sadiq Khan 'has wasted five years' says Shaun Bailey

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The Labour politician has been Mayor of London since May 2016, succeeding Boris Johnson who later went onto to take over as Prime Minister from the resigning Theresa May. Mr Khan heads into the crunch Mayoral elections on May 6, seeking a new four-year term that would take him through to 2025. The Government postponed all elections that were due to take place in May 2020, including for the Mayor of London, due to the Covid pandemic, meaning Mr Khan will have served a five-year term in office as opposed to the normal four.

He is a heavy favourite at the bookmakers to succeed next Thursday when he goes head-to-head with the likes of Conservative Party candidate Shaun Bailey and the Sian Berry of the Green Party.

But one fierce critic has lashed out at Mr Khan just days before the election, who has accused Mr Khan of being “far more irresponsible with public money as Mayor than Boris was”.

Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group think tank, told Express.co.uk: “Sadiq Khan’s performance financially is marked by a combination of massive tax hikes and failure to balance the books.

“Khan has driven through a 30 percent increase in congestion charge, a 30 percent increase in council tax, with a further 10 percent proposed, as well as a range of measures which make doing business not only more expensive, but also more difficult, and in some cases impossible.

“Boris Johnson is not known for his careful and conservative management of public finances, yet Khan has shown himself to be far more irresponsible with public money as Mayor than Boris was.

“Because of the deficits many London departments like TfL are running there is a huge cost to the taxpayer (roughly £400million annually) just paying the interest on the departmental debt.”

Mr Harris-Quinney said the multi-billion pound bailouts for Transport for London (TfL) demanded by Mr Khan of the Government has led to a huge increase in travel fares across the capital and resulting tax hikes.

He added this has made London an increasingly expensive place to live, consequently putting it out of reach of poorer workers, with the capital becoming a city under Labour that is “only possible to have a decent standard of living in if you are super-rich”.

The Bow Group chairman said: “The need for two major bailouts of TfL means big fare hikes and tax rises, making London an ever more expensive place to live, and an unviable place to live for many poorer workers due to the expense.

“London has therefore become a city under Labour that, ironically, is only possible to have a decent standard of living in if you are super-rich.”

He added: “I have lived in London for much of my life, many see me and the Bow Group as the epitome of conservatism, and from the left’s point of view, privilege.

“The reality is I can no longer afford to live in London, and if I can’t then what hope do the poorest in society have of a decent life there?

“From a conservative perspective I cannot think of a single high from Sadiq Khan’s time as Mayor of London, and I would invite him to point me to one.”

Mr Khan sparked fury at the end of last year after looking for a £4.9billion settlement for the next 18 months to keep the capital’s tube and bus services going as revenues collapsed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The London Mayor had accused the Government of “draconian” demands in return for a second bailout.

But the Prime Minister launched a blistering attack against Mr Khan, and told the House of Commons in October: “The current mayor of London had effectively bankrupted TfL before coronavirus had even hit and left a massive black hole in its finances.

“Any need to make up that deficit is entirely down to him, it is entirely his responsibility.

“Any expansion of the congestion charge or any other measure taken to improve the finances of TfL are entirely the responsibility of the bankrupt current Labour mayor of London.”

A Downing Street spokesperson claimed TfL’s debt had increased 30 percent since Mr Khan became mayor four-and-a-half years earlier, adding: “TfL debt is now a record high of £12bn and now spends £402m a year on debt interest.”

Mr Khan responded by calling the Prime Minister a “liar” and said he had cut the operations deficit by 71 percent.

He said “It gives me no pleasure in saying so, but our prime minister today, on the floor of the House of Commons, has lied.

“We as a transport authority rely hugely on transport fares from Londoners, and more than 90 percent of that has dried up, which is why we need a Covid bailout from the government.

“What the government is doing instead is punishing Londoners by imposing all sorts of draconian conditions.”

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