'Boris Johnson lied to Commons' about Sadiq Khan 'bankrupting' TfL, mayor tells LBC

21 October 2020, 14:01 | Updated: 21 October 2020, 16:38

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Sadiq Khan has told LBC that Prime Minister Boris Johnson lied to the House of Commons about the mayor bankrupting Transport for London.

Speaking with Shelagh Fogarty on Wednesday, Mr Khan refuted the accusations aimed at him by the government.

Earlier in the day, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told LBC "the mayor has bankrupted TfL and the Greater London Authority". Later, Mr Johnson gave the same message to MPs during Prime Minister's Questions.

The mayor told Shelagh it was a "fact" that he had not made TfL bankrupt and that he had instead "cleaned up some of the mess" left by his predecessor, the now-PM.

He said: "Jenrick is either misinformed or lying. Boris Johnson is lying."

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The prime minister was quizzed by Labour's Janet Daby during PMQs on Wednesday, during which he was pressed on future funding for TfL.

The Lewisham East MP asked: "Can the Prime Minister confirm that his government is seeking to force the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to remove free travel for under-18s and for holders of the 60+ travel card in return for the further financial support for TfL to keep the tubes and buses running?"

Refusing to deny that free travel for under-18s in London will be scrapped, Mr Johnson replied: "It was the Labour Mayor of London who bankrupted TfL's finances and any changes that he brings in are entirely his responsibility.

"And I suggest she holds him to account."

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The Mayor of London also took to Twitter earlier in the day, where he accused the UK leader of lying to MPs.

He told his 1.1 million followers: "The PM has lied to the House of Commons.

"Before Covid I was fixing his mess at TfL- reducing the deficit by 71% since 2016.

"Covid-19 is the sole cause of TfL’s challenges.

"The PM wants to increase fares, the C-Charge & taxes - & end free travel for children and older Londoners."

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Khan told a TfL board meeting that now was not the time for No 10 to be playing "party political games or (to) be vindictive towards London" when considering a deal for TfL funding.

"This is far too serious a matter," he added.

"We need to do what's right for the city and the people of the city who have endured so much during this crisis.

"I say to the board this morning, I intend to stand firm and fight for a fair deal for Londoners and do what's right for our city."

Sadiq Khan has accused Boris Johnson of lying during PMQs
Sadiq Khan has accused Boris Johnson of lying during PMQs. Picture: PA

The mayor had previously accused the government of hitting Londoners with a "triple whammy" of higher costs in return for TfL funding related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Khan called on ministers to reconsider the "ill-advised and draconian" proposals, such as extending the £15 Congestion Charge Zone to the North and South Circular roads in 12 months' time, which would see the zone expanded to cover around four million more Londoners.

The government was also said to want to increase TfL fares by well above the inflation rate, and double down on demands to remove free travel for under-18s.

A further government proposal is to introduce a new council tax charge in the capital, regardless of whether residents use public transport, said the mayor.

Mr Khan said: "I simply cannot accept this government plan, which would hit Londoners with a triple whammy of higher costs at a time when so many people are already facing hardship."

Meanwhile, TfL boss Andy Byford said another bus driver in the capital has died from coronavirus.

He told a board meeting: "I am desperately sad to say that since the last board meeting we have lost another colleague to the coronavirus. It's another bus driver.

"That brings the total number of colleagues who've died during the pandemic to 45, including bus drivers. It breaks my heart.

"I know it does resonate personally with you, Sadiq, to have lost another colleague.

"We are putting every effort into making sure that lessons learned from the early part of the pandemic are embedded and we're putting a huge focus on making sure that we're fully prepared for the second wave which does appear to be becoming apparent."

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