Khan's Ulez U-turn? Mayor 'reviewing' expansion plans after 'constructive' talks with Starmer

22 July 2023, 20:30 | Updated: 22 July 2023, 23:15

Starmer has reportedly urged Khan to 'reflect' on the controversial expansion plan
Starmer has reportedly urged Khan to 'reflect' on the controversial expansion plan. Picture: Alamy

By Adam Solomons

Sadiq Khan is reportedly reconsidering plans to expand Ulez after talks with Keir Starmer, who blamed the contentious policy for Labour's by-election defeat in Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

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The Mayor of London's flagship green policy to expand the charge for drivers travelling into the capital in non-compliant vehicles has received renewed criticism after the Conservatives held Boris Johnson's former seat with a majority of 495.

Khan told LBC on Friday that the plan remains "the right thing to do", despite Angela Rayner criticising the policy and claiming that "when you don't listen to voters you don't win elections".

But after talks with the Labour leader on Friday, a source close to the mayor said Mr Khan is "listening to Londoners following this by-election".

Read more: Keir Starmer calls for Sadiq Khan to 'reflect' on Ulez expansion after surprise by-election loss

Read more: 'Right thing to do': Sadiq Khan vows to press on with Ulez expansion despite surprise by-election loss

Ulez has 'affected out family terribly' says caller

They told The Sunday Times: “The mayor is always looking at ways he can address their concerns."

A Labour source told the newspaper after the pair's 'positive' and 'constructive' talks: “It’s clear Sadiq is going to be reviewing it.”

Further "intensive discussions" on the policy between Starmer and Khan are now expected to take place.

Rayner was one of several Labour frontbenchers willing to openly criticise Khan, stating on Friday: "There is a concern that we have to make sure that whatever is implemented is not at the cost of working families."

Ben Kentish: How much has Ulez impacted Labour losing in Uxbridge?

Starmer added at an event on Saturday: “I don’t think there is any doubt that Ulez was the reason that we lost the election in Uxbridge.

“And I have said we should reflect on this, including the mayor. I have spoken to him as you would expect, and so there will be that reflection.

“I think when it comes to green commitments, it is not a question of whether they should be done – of course they need to be done.

“It is how they are done, so there is a discussion to be had about that.”

Uxbridge and South Ruislip candidate Danny Beales also said on Saturday: "You cannot tell working people you are laser-focused on the cost of living [...] on the difficulties facing them [...] of making life easier [... and then also penalise them, simply for driving their car to work.

"Ulez is bad policy. It must be rethought.”

Labour did not listen to voters over Ulez, says Angela Rayner

Vowing to press on with the expansion on August 29, Khan told LBC on Friday: “Of course I’m disappointed that Labour didn’t gain this seat for the first time in my lifetime but obviously I welcome the fact there’s been a seven per cent swing to Labour.

“Look, expanding Ulez to all of London wasn’t an easy decision, it was a tough decision but I think it was the right thing for us to do.

“Why? Because we’ve managed to clean up the air for the four million Londoners in inner and central London. What about the five million Londoners in outer London?

“Clean air shouldn’t be a privilege, it should be a right, so of course I’m listening.

"That’s why I widened the eligibility for Ulez so every family who receives child benefits, every business that employs up to 50 people, every charity, can now have three cars."

Caller blames Sadiq Khan for Labour loss in Uxbridge due to Ulez