Sadiq Khan wants more power: ‘I’m envious of New York and Tokyo mayors’

Sadiq Khan wants more power: ‘I’m envious of New York and Tokyo mayors’

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has told MyLondon “it goes without saying” he needs more power and resources.

Speaking as he officially launched his campaign for a second term in office, the Labour mayoral candidate said it “goes without saying” that the capital needs more autonomy.

“When I speak to my friends in New York and Tokyo I’m envious. In New York, they get to spend 50 per cent of taxes raised, Tokyo [is] 70 per cent, London 7 per cent.

“We need far more powers and resources not just for London, but other parts of the country as well […] devolution needs to be meaningful.”

The current mayor has previously been in dispute with Westminster over the power he is able to wield and cash he can draw upon.

A recent flashpoint was over the funding of Transport for London (TfL).

The coronavirus pandemic lockdown reductions in passenger numbers hit the city’s transport network especially hard as it relies heavily on fares for its income.

As a result TfL has needed several bailouts from central government, the latest of which was announced today and runs until after the mayoral elections .

During the negotiations for the first £1.6 billion bailout last summer, the mayor was critical of a perceived reluctance in central government’s to grant London’s transport network the money it needed.

He told a transport selection committee that “proper fiscal devolution”-giving London greater power to raise and spend taxes-was one of the options that could resolve TfL’s funding crisis.

Speaking to My London he urged Westminster to strike a long term deal for the benefit of everyone.

“What the government’s got to realise is that our businesses rely upon TfL, our tourism relies upon a good public transport system and they’re in danger of cutting the nose to spite their face.

“We’ve got this deal to get us over the election. After the election I hope cool, calm heads prevail, and we get a long term plan that makes sure TfL is sustainable going forward, because the reality is we need TfL to be working at full capacity as soon as possible.”

‘Don’t make London poorer’

After the budget, earlier this month, Sadiq Khan said the country had “the most anti-London government in living memory”.

Taking a more conciliatory tone today, he argued London must convince Westminster to support the capital.

He said: “We’ve got to persuade the government that the way to achieve the levelling up agenda is not to make London poorer.

“You can make different parts of the country more equal by making London poorer [but] that to me is nonsensical.

“I want the government to realise that if they want a national recovery, they need London to be doing well, and that’s why they need to be supporting London.

“If London fires on all cylinders, the country benefits.”