Sadiq Khan is reportedly “now listening” on ULEZ discussions after the controversial environmental tax cost Labour the Uxbridge by-election. The London mayor has said he is now in “constructive listening mode” in a softening of his position on the policy that would greatly increase the number of drivers caught by an anti-pollution tax.
Earlier, he claimed it was the “right” approach and that clean air is a “human right, not a privilege”.
A war of words erupted in Labour last night between Sir Keir Starmer and Sadiq Khan after the party’s by-election defeat in west London.
Sir Keir blamed the London mayor for the loss in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, claiming his plan to extend ultra low emission zones across the capital had handed victory to the Tories.
The ULEZ scheme, already in force in Central London, means owners of older cars must pay a £12.50 daily charge to use their vehicles. Tories had focused relentlessly on the scheme.
Starmer and his shadow cabinet blame the ULEZ for their failure to win Boris Johnson’s former seat of Uxbridge & South Ruislip in northwest London on Thursday.
The leader called Khan on the day of the defeat to urge him to fall into line, reports claim. Aides for both men said the talks were “positive” and “constructive”.
Allies of Starmer claim Khan has now promised to review the policy in what would amount to a significant U-turn, reported The Times.
A senior Labour source said: “It’s clear Sadiq is going to be reviewing it.”
The ULEZ is due to expand at the end of August from the boundary of the north and south circular roads to throughout Greater London, requiring drivers of the most polluting vehicles to pay £12.50 a day in the midst of soaring inflation and a cost of living crisis.
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. We’ve got to face up to that and learn the lessons.”
According to sources, Khan and Starmer are exploring how to limit the financial impact of the policy on drivers while cleaning up the capital’s pollution problem.
In a sign of the growing pressure on the mayor, yesterday he deleted a tweet about “bold action” being required to protect the environment.