'I can't understand it': Sajid Javid blasts Khan's London fireworks cancellation

14 October 2021, 08:35 | Updated: 14 October 2021, 10:21

By Will Taylor

Sajid Javid has blasted Sadiq Khan's decision to cancel London's New Year's Eve fireworks - and said he "can't understand" the decision.

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The health secretary, who spearheads the UK’s Covid efforts, said he believed it will be "perfectly safe" to hold the show.

The mayor's decision - blamed on Covid uncertainty, the amount of planning and organising needed and a shortage of stewards - means the fireworks will not be seen for a second year going.

Speaking on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Mr Javid said: "Obviously that's a decision from the mayor but from my point of view I can't understand why that can't happen.

"I think there's a perfectly safe way that can take place so I really don't understand that decision. But as I say, that's not a decision for the Government, it's the mayor's firework display so I hope he can reconsider it."

Read more: Sadiq Khan branded 'grinch' for cancelling London's NYE fireworks

Read more: 'Don't hide behind Covid': Londoners angry at no NYE fireworks for a second year

Asked about how the show could promote London and the UK, particularly as the Government tries to "build back better" from coronavirus, Mr Javid said: "I think the London fireworks display on New Year's is fantastic, it's a great advert for the UK across the world and I hope that decision can be considered.

"I see no reason why that can't happen safely."

Mr Khan has blamed uncertainty caused by the pandemic – though a spokesperson for the mayor insisted London will "be welcoming the new year in a spectacular way".

They added: "This event typically takes just under a year to plan and organise and as lockdown restrictions were only eased in July, this was unfortunately not possible this year.

"Also, due to a national shortage, there are simply not enough stewards available to allow this event to go ahead safely.

"Last year's successful show took place in a slightly different way due to the pandemic.

"A number of exciting new options are being considered as part of this year's New Year's Eve celebrations in London, including a brand-new event in Trafalgar Square. Further details of this year's celebration will be announced in due course."

Mr Khan has been branded "the grinch" for cancelling the show, with Conservative London Assembly member Tony Devenish telling LBC he should "get the fireworks going and let's enjoy our wonderful city".

Also speaking to Nick, Labour's shadow trade secretary Emily Thornberry said: "I am disappointed, of course I am, because I think the fireworks we have in London are absolutely brilliant, but we do get large numbers of people coming together in order to watch them.

"We're still in uncertain times, we don't know what's going to happen next in the pandemic, it hasn't gone away, and a large amount of public funds needs to be invested in advance, I suppose, in the firework display and we don't want to waste it."