Sadiq Khan warns Labour not to turn ‘anti-London’ in bid to win Northern votes

Ross Lydall
Sadiq Khan warned the Labour Party as it attempts to rebuild support in its former Northern heartlands: PA

Sadiq Khan today warned the Labour party not to fall into the trap of an “anti-London agenda” as it attempts to rebuild support in its former Northern heartlands.

The Labour Mayor was using his biggest set-piece speech of the year to fight back against the “fashionable” position of redirecting government cash from the capital to the regions.

It comes after Boris Johnson pledged to “repay” communities in the Midlands and the North that voted Tory in last month’s general election. This is feared to have put the London to Birmingham leg of the HS2 rail line, and funding for Crossrail 2, in jeopardy.

There is pressure for Labour to be seen as less London-centric as it elects a new leader.

Mr Khan, in an address to the London Government dinner at Mansion House tonight, will argue that attempts to “re-balance” government spending by cutting the capital’s funding will harm the country as a whole. “This fashionable, anti-London agenda isn’t just a problem in the Tory party,” he will say.

“My party, the Labour party, clearly faces the same forces and pressures, particularly after the general election result. In recent years, we’ve already seen London excluded from several government funding pots — and this is only set to get worse.

“Clipping London’s wings is not the answer if you want to help other cities and regions to soar.”

London generates £150 billion a year in taxes but receives £116 billion back in public spending, according to City Hall research. Spending on rail and roads per passenger journey in London is below the national average.

Mr Khan will seek to frame the May 7 mayoral election as a “battle for London’s soul”. He claims advances in equality and diversity — which he calls “London values” — are under threat from “political correctness gone mad”.

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