Sadiq Khan: I won't be voting for Rebecca Long-Bailey in Labour leader race

JOE MURPHY, Ayesha Hazarika
Sadiq Khan: Matt Writtle

Sadiq Khan today ruled out backing Left-winger Rebecca Long-Bailey for the Labour leadership — saying the party needs a leader who understands why it lost the 2019 general election.

London’s Mayor came off the fence in an interview with the Evening Standard, saying he would vote for either Sir Keir Starmer or Lisa Nandy.

“Of the three candidates left I would be very surprised if Rebecca Long-Bailey was able to change my view of her,” he said.

“I’ll probably decide over the course of the next few days between Keir and Lisa.”

Rebecca Long-Bailey pictured next to Sir Keir Starmer (Getty Images)

Ms Long-Bailey famously awarded Jeremy Corbyn “10 out of 10” for his performance in the party’s election drubbing.

But Mr Khan said: “I’m quite clear that we lost the December 12 election badly, the worst result we’ve had since 1935... we’ve got to make sure we learn the lessons of the past, and we choose somebody who’s going to get back into winning. We will only improve people’s lives and transform their life chances by winning elections.”

In an apparent rebuke to Ms Nandy, who has said ex-leader Tony Blair continued with the economics of Margaret Thatcher, Mr Khan said: “When I get lectured by people who talk about 13 years of a Thatcherite government, I say ‘wake up’. I get quite annoyed, angry, about that sort of analysis because it’s lazy.”

In contrast with the three contenders, the Mayor heaped praise on triple-winner Mr Blair’s achievements in government, such as Sure Start and the minimum wage.

He warned: “Listen, if we don’t stand up for our record, why should the public lend us their vote for the next election when we say there should be a Labour government?”

Kicking off his own campaign to be re-elected on May 7, Mr Khan pledged to make London’s bus fleet zero emission by 2030, seven years faster than planned.

Unveiling a Green New Deal for the capital, he announced he will plant wildflowers on the central reservations of main roads. And he confirmed he will massively expand the £12.50-per-day Ultra Low Emissions Zone (Ulez) to cover an area 18 times as large as the congestion charge zone, stretching from the South Circular to the North Circular.

“Hundreds of thousands of journeys will be affected every day — but I make no apology for putting Londoners’ health first.”

The Mayor did not rule out following in Boris Johnson’s footsteps by making a return to the House of Commons before the next four years are up. In other highlights of the wide-ranging interview:

  • He urged Boris Johnson to show black Britons he is not racist — and said rap star Dave was simply “articulating the experiences and the feelings of many Londoners” when he called the Prime Minister “a real racist” at the Brit Awards.

  • Attacked the Government’s immigration proposals, saying they would have barred his parents and the parents of Sajid Javid, Stormzy and Dave.

  • Admitted he had built tens of thousands fewer new homes in London during his first term than he hoped, but blamed the wider economic picture and Government policies. He stressed he had hugely increased the share of council and affordable homes being built, though City Hall is only halfway to its target of 116,000 new homes by 2022.

  • Mr Khan has been under pressure over violent crime and the murder rate hitting an 11-year high. Some 15,080 knife offences were recorded in the capital during the 12 months to the end of last September. He is “heartbroken” by the number of deaths of teenage boys in knife attacks, adding: “I’ve probably been to more funerals and met more bereaved families than any politician in history.” He was confident that the toll had peaked and there would be fewer tragedies over the next four years.

With Londoners going to the polls on May 7 to choose their mayor for the next four years, he predicted a “two-horse race” between him and Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey and put cleaner air at the heart of his pitch for a second term. London’s buses will all be electric or hydrogen powered within a decade.