Jacob Rees-Mogg accuses Sadiq Khan of ‘loony left-wing wheezes’ over diversity report

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 15: Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg  arrives at 10 Downing Street in London, England on December 15, 2020. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Jacob Rees-Mogg said London should be spared 'loony left-wing wheezes'. (Getty)

Jacob Rees-Mogg has launched an astonishing attack on London mayor Sadiq Khan and his report into diversity.

Rees-Mogg, the leader of the House, branded the city’s mayor “Red Khan” in a reference to former mayor Ken Livingstone, and said that the capital should be spared “loony left-wing wheezes”.

Fifteen panellists have been selected for Khan’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, including art historian Aindrea Emelife and chairman of City Sikhs, Jasvir Singh.

The homepage of the commission notes that London’s statues, plaques and street names “largely reflect a bygone era” and it seeks to improve diversity in public spaces.

It was set up by the mayor to reflect the capital’s diversity after Black Lives Matters protesters tore down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol last year.

Conservative Andrew Rosindell raised the report in the Commons on Thursday, saying: “The leader of the House will be aware that the mayor of London has announced a new taskforce for his commission on diversity in the public realm.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaks to staff operating mobile door-to-door testing of local residents, as they assess the prevalence of the South African Covid-19 variant in the Ealing district of London, Monday Feb. 8, 2021. The AstraZeneca vaccine is being used widely in Britain although South Africa has suspended plans to use it for their front-line health care workers after a small clinical trial suggested it may not be effective against the South Africa coronavirus variant.(Kirsty O'Connor/PA via AP)

Fifteen panellists have been selected for Sadiq Khan’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm. (AP)

“Unsurprisingly it seems to be made up almost entirely of left-wing political activists, campaigners and celebrities instead of historians and experts.

“Do you share my concern about these unelected activists being given the power to interfere with London street names and monuments, and will he consider granting a debate in government time to discuss how we can defend our great capital city’s proud history and heritage?”

Watch: Sunak: Change doesn't come about through vandalism

Rees-Mogg said councils should be responsible for naming streets, with the MP for North East Somerset advising Khan to not “interfere in things that aren’t his responsibility”.

He replied: “I absolutely agree with my honourable friend.

“It seems to me that the mayor of London has replaced Red Ken as Red Khan.

“Who would have thought that you’d have a more left-wing leader of London than Ken Livingstone? And now we do, and Red Khan is he.”

Continuing his attack, Rees-Mogg added: “It is quite wrong that these loony left-wing wheezes should be inflicted upon our great metropolis, and I think the mayor in his zeal is potentially treading on the toes of councils anyway – that councils have the right to name streets, by and large, not the mayor of London, and I don’t think he should interfere in things that aren’t his responsibility.

The statue of Colston is pushed into the river Avon. Edward Colston was a slave trader of the late 17th century who played a major role in the development of the city of Bristol, England, on June 7, 2020. (Photo by Giulia Spadafora/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The statue of slave trader Edward Colston is pushed into the river Avon by protesters in June last year. (Getty)

“As I was saying on the honours list, we should celebrate and glory in our wonderful history and in the great heroes of our nation going back over centuries.”

Rees-Mogg earlier defended the honours system after weekend reports suggested that figures within Labour want to scrap knighthoods and all other royal gongs – and replace them with a “civic award”.

Labour officials distanced the party from proposals to abolish the UK’s honours system, insisting the report was commissioned by former leader Jeremy Corbyn and that current leader Sir Keir Starmer has not seen it and will not be taking it forward.

Watch: Toppled Colston statue recovered from Bristol Harbour