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

21 July 2023, 14:31 | Updated: 21 July 2023, 15:01

Both Labour and the Tories have blamed Ulez for their by-election loss in Uxbridge
Both Labour and the Tories have blamed Ulez for their by-election loss in Uxbridge. Picture: Getty/Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Sadiq Khan has told LBC he plans to press on with his Ulez expansion, despite unrest from Labour MPs following the party's loss in the Uxbridge by-election.

Speaking to LBC's Shelagh Fogarty, the Mayor of London defended plans to expand the Ulez, which he says will improve air quality in outer London.

“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," he said.

It comes after his party narrowly missed out on Boris Johnson's former constituency in a night of by-elections, with both the Conservatives and Labour putting the result down to Ulez.

This caused some unrest among senior Labour MPs, including Angela Rayner, who put the loss down to the expansion.

She said the loss shows what happens "when you don't listen to voters you don't win elections".

"There is a concern that we have to make sure that whatever is implemented is not at the cost of working families," she said.

Ulez has 'affected out family terribly' says caller

Mr Khan has nonetheless vowed to press on with the policy, telling LBC: "I’ve lived in London my entire life. During my life, that seat has never been Labour, even in 1997 when Tony Blair won a landslide victory.

“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."

Ulez is set to cover all of London from the end of August
Ulez is set to cover all of London from the end of August. Picture: Getty

Read More: Defiant Sunak says general election not a 'done deal' as Tories keep Uxbridge amid Ulez backlash but lose two seats

Steve Tuckwell managed to retain Mr Johnson's former Uxbridge seat for Rishi Sunak's, sparing him from being the first prime minister since 1968 to lose three by-elections on the same day.

Speaking to LBC after his win, Mr Tuckwell also said Ulez was the reason behind his win.

"That determination to push Ulez on Uxbridge and South Ruislip has cost Labour the election this evening," he said.

Elsewhere, Labour secured a record win in Selby and the Liberal Democrats took Somerton and Frome.

Read More: 'It's a case of Ulez you lose', Tom Swarbrick tells Tory chairman as Conservatives retain Uxbridge seat

The Mayor of London is facing a legal challenge from five Tory councils, who have questioned Mr Khan's use of data in justifying the ULEZ expansion.

They include four London councils - Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon - as well as Surrey Council Council, who say there was a "lack of consultation" in expanding the zone.

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