Sadiq Khan provoked anger after claiming “far-right” protesters and Covid deniers were among those rallying against his ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) plans.
A crowd of people had gathered to express their opposition to the plan at Ealing Town Hall on Thursday (March 2), where the Mayor of London was participating in a ‘People’s Question Time’ event.
The London Mayor was there to field questions from residents on a range of topics, from policing to housing, but his controversial ULEZ plan dominated the evening.
Good to answer questions in Ealing on how we are addressing genuine concerns about ULEZ expansion, whilst ensuring our children no longer breathe in poison.
To the conspiracy theorists who tried to disrupt tonight's #PQT: Londoners have no time for your dangerous misinformation.
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) March 2, 2023
While most of the audience members seemed solely worried about the ULEZ expansion and its financial impact, several protestors outside the event also cited conspiracy theories about so-called 15-minute cities and the supposed introduction of “social credit systems” in Britain.
Signs held by some of the protesters claimed that there would be an “end of free movement” as a result of schemes like ULEZ and a “UN agenda”. Others depicted Mr Khan with both a swastika and a hammer-and-sickle symbol.
Amid frequent heckles from the crowd who had gathered to ask him questions, Mr Khan said: “What I find unacceptable is some of those who’ve got legitimate objections [about ULEZ] joining hands with some of those outside, who are part of a far-right group.
“Let’s be frank, let’s call a spade a spade. Some of those outside are part of the far right. Some are Covid deniers. Some are vaccine-deniers. And some are Tories.”
— City Hall Conservatives (@CityHallTories) March 2, 2023
As the mayor said this, members of the crowd shouted back: “We are not the far right – normal people are not the far right.”
Mr Khan later said: “There are people with legitimate concerns. We’re seeking to address those, and we’ll make sure we carry on listening, to make the ULEZ a success.”
Conservative Assembly Member Peter Fortune hit back at Mr Khan’s comments, prompting cheers from the crowd as he said: “You heard it didn’t you? If you disagree with the mayor, he’s going to paint you as far right.
“If you disagree with the mayor, he’s going to say you’re a science-denier, he’s going to say you’re a Covid-denier, he’s going to say you’re a flat-earther, he’s going to say you think there are aliens in Buckingham Palace, and Mr Blobby shot Kennedy.
“He’s going to throw all this stuff at you, because he doesn’t want to address the fact you’ve got legitimate concerns.”