Sadiq Khan responds to Priti Patel's accusations he prioritises 'statues over saving lives'

18 February 2021, 14:44 | Updated: 26 February 2021, 17:42

By Fiona Jones

Sadiq Khan responds to Home Secretary Priti Patel's criticism that "saving lives should be his ultimate priority" instead of "renaming streets and statues."

Speaking on LBC's exclusive Call the Cabinet, the Home Secretary was asked about action taken to prevent knife crime as London has already seen multiple teen stabbings in 2021.

In her answer Ms Patel said of the London Mayor: "Never mind talking about renaming streets, taking statues down, saving lives should be the ultimate priority."

The London Mayor came on to his exclusive LBC phone-in show Speak to Sadiq and James broached the subject of statues after the Home Secretary's comments.

"How many hours a week do you dedicate to thinking about statues?" James asked.

"Not a lot, I've got to be honest," he replied.

Read more: Sadiq Khan urges PM to 'listen to science' and not backbench MPs in lifting lockdown

James, paraphrasing, remarked that the Home Secretary came on LBC and said "you spent more time worrying about statues than stabbed teenagers."

"Some people are trying to engineer a culture war because it plays to the hinterland or it gets more listeners to LBC," Mr Khan said, "I don't apologise for walking round my city as I do and not seeing many street names, murals, statues or names of buildings that reflect the contribution made by a diverse population."

Mr Khan said when he became Mayor he had been an MP for 11 years and had "never twigged" that there are 12 statues in Parliament Square, but none of these celebrated figures include women.

Watch again: Speak to Sadiq

He pointed out that feminist activist Caroline Criado-Perez successfully campaigned for a statue of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett to be erected, asking, "Does that make you feel less British? Or challenge you in any way about your virility? I think not.

"If it's the case that some LBC listeners and politicians are unhappy about our public realm reflecting better our diversity, they should question why they're so riled about this. That's all we're doing."

He said of the 15 people commissioned to examine the diversity of London are not receiving a salary and are simply there to ideate better ways to reflect the variety of the capital city.