The High Court’s decision to hear the full case against Sadiq Khan’s Ulez expansion is a major blow to the mayor. He arrogantly dismissed the legal challenge launched by a coalition of five Conservative councils (Bromley, Bexley, Harrow, Hillingdon and Surrey) urging the Court to throw the case out. But once again, his judgement was flawed.
Now the Court’s ruling means we’re a step closer to preventing Khan’s highway robbery. It will come down to whether the Court finds that his decision was unlawful, having failed to follow statutory procedures or to consider the impact of his cash-grabbing policies on motorists living in neighbouring counties.
Should the Court find against Khan, he should resign. Any honourable man in his position would do so. He would acknowledge that such a heavy blow against a plan so fundamental to his agenda was a fatal one. The crazy saga over Ulez expansion could then, at last, come to an end, and the capital would once again be able to focus on its post-Covid economic recovery.
It would be fitting, moreover, for the mayor to have been defeated by councillors, injecting a much-needed dose of local democracy into an administration which has functioned by arrogant dictation. I wish them every success. But alas, the Sadiq Khan we know is unlikely to do the honourable thing. He may instead try to pass the buck for any legal defeat, cling on to office and continue to wage all-out war on motorists.
Thus, whatever the outcome in the High Court, the Conservative Party needs to launch a serious and determined campaign to oust him in next year’s mayoral election. The opposition to Ulez in outer London is already so vast that we now have the best opportunity in over a decade to take back control.
After eight years of Sadiq Khan, there is not a single positive thing the Labour Party can claim to have delivered in London. The city isn’t safer. In fact, the London Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan Police are in special measures. The latter is in crisis, with Baroness Casey’s report unveiling how low the force has fallen.
Transport for London is virtually broke, with little money to invest on improving services. That’s not to mention Khan’s infamous promise of zero days of strikes; we have seen more than 130 strike days on his watch, triple the number under Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson.
Khan has utterly failed to make London more affordable. Despite the government giving him nearly £9 billion to build affordable homes, his housebuilding record is sluggish. And if ever he got his way on rent controls, the situation would only deteriorate.
Elsewhere, he has compounded the cost of living crisis. He hiked his share of council tax by 57 per cent to record levels, raised the congestion charge to £15, and increased road traffic fines to an eye-watering £160.
A positive, serious, determined Conservative mayoral campaign with a plan to restore trust in the police, drive down violent and neighbourhood crime, cut the cost of City Hall, build more homes and end the war on motorists by stopping Ulez expansion can win in London.
Ultimately, history could show that this initial victory in the High Court was also the first step toward the end of Sadiq Khan’s mayoralty, either by enforced resignation or ejection by Londoners at the ballot box.
Article by Gareth Bacon MP first published by The Daily Telegraph.