ULEZ: Sir Keir Starmer urged to ‘reflect’ on comments on Sadiq Khan’s expansion plans

The Labour leader said there was not “any doubt” the ULEZ expansion was the reason the Tories held on to Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
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A Labour councillor in London has written an open letter to Sir Keir Starmer, urging the party’s leader “to reflect” on his comments on the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) following the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election.

The Conservatives were able to hold on to the west London seat in last week’s vote, if only by a significantly reduced majority of just 495, with Sadiq Khan’s planned ULEZ expansion largely blamed for Labour failing to take Boris Johnson’s former constituency.

Since then, several leading Labour figures, including deputy leader Angela Rayner and shadow justice secretary Steve Reed, have spoken against the ULEZ, with calls for the London mayor to reconsider the scheme.

Sir Keir himself castigated the mayor over the result, saying he did not think there was “any doubt” the ULEZ was the reason the Tories held onto the seat.

The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer. Credit: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images.The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer. Credit: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images.
The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer. Credit: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images.

Mr Khan has held his ground, with a source close to the mayor saying: “Winning Uxbridge and South Ruislip was always going to be a struggle for Labour. Labour hasn’t won this seat for five decades and Tony Blair didn’t even win it during the 1997 landslide.

“Sadiq has always been clear that expanding the ULEZ was a really difficult decision, but necessary to save the lives of young and vulnerable Londoners.”

It is understood though that the mayor is in “listening mode”, and open to suggestions to lessen the financial impact on those with non-compliant vehicles.

Over the last few days, he has also received public support from several London Labour politicians, including Westminster councillor Max Sullivan, also the council’s deputy cabinet member for city management and air quality.

Cllr Sullivan, in an open letter to Sir Keir, wrote that he supported his bid for leadership, and door knocked for Danny Beales, the Labour candidate in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election.

However, he continued: “I am supremely disappointed by the public comments you’ve made on ULEZ being the decisive factor in Danny Beales being a few hundred votes shy of winning, and that you’ve seen fit to ask the mayor to reconsider the policy.

“A necessary policy to clean up the air in outer London and save lives should not be put at risk by a flawed and simplistic interpretation of the election result.”

Cllr Sullivan added Sir Keir’s words “make the job of cleaning up our air harder politically”, before urging him “to reflect”, a nod to the party leader’s own words to Mr Khan.

Mr Khan has also received support from non-Labour politicans in the capital, including Will Norman, the city’s walking and cycling commissioner, and Zack Polanski, a Green Party London Assembly Member (AM).

The ULEZ is due to be expanded on August 29, at which date it will grow to incorporate the whole of greater London.

According to Transport for London (TfL), 90% of cars seen driving in outer London are already compliant and so will not have to pay the £12.50 daily charge.

While the Conservatives were able to hold on to Uxbridge and South Ruislip, it was a silver lining on an otherwise miserable day, as they lost both Selby and Ainsty and Somerton and Frome to the Liberal Democrats and Labour.