The Mayor defended his controversial decision to expand the daily charge of £12.50 for older polluting vehicles to all of Greater London from Tuesday, saying it was “his mission” to persuade Londoners that it was the “right policy”.
Speaking in an interview with the Sunday Times, Mr Khan accused the Government of mock anger over the ultra-low emissions zone, and rebutted some critics’ claims that the zone does not significantly improve the capital’s air quality.
“The thing which frustrates me is, is if it was the case that the Ulez wasn’t working, I would have abandoned it, because I’m pragmatic,” he said.
“But the Ulez has been shown to reduce toxicity by almost 50 per cent in central London.”
Mr Khan is facing a rating of minus 24 in suburban boroughs, recent polling suggests, as he prepares to battle for a historic third time as mayor.
On Saturday, protesters chanted “Get Khan Out!” at an anti-Ulez rally in Tooting, south London, attended by those opposed to the expansion.
Among them was retired financial planner Warren Stephens, 50, who suggested it is “all about money and control".
Mr Stephens, whose car is Ulez compliant, said: “It is saying you are ‘OK to drive your polluting car if you give me £12.50’.
“It is all about money, otherwise they would ban petrol and polluting cars."
City Hall has said the majority of cars in outer London are already compliant, and that there is a £160m scrappage scheme for residents, small businesses, sole traders and charities to claim grants to change vehicles.
Ministers earlier this week decided not to use legal powers to overrule the expansion on the basis it is “inconsistent with national policies” after being advised it would fail if challenged in court.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “It is for the Mayor to justify the ULEZ expansion, and at a time when the Government is doing everything it can to support people with the cost of living, the Mayor is responsible for explaining whether it is fair to charge those with non-compliant vehicles £12.50 every time they drive in London.”