Sadiq Khan’s ‘war on the car’ dramatically backfires after Labour’s defeat

Steve Tuckwell’s victory speech in Uxbridge and South Ruislip

Sadiq Khan’s obsession with the Ultra Lower Emission Zone (ULEZ) ensured a humiliating Labour defeat in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election, a Tory MP and critic of such schemes has claimed.

Nick Fletcher also believes the fact that his party managed to hang on to a seat they were widely tipped to lose represents a “damning verdict” on the unpopularity of ULEZ and other similar initiatives.

The member for Don Valley told “The war on the car is wrong.

“To tax people by the back door is wrong. To have no regard to people’s opinions is wrong.

“A message was delivered today by the people of Uxbridge and Ruislip.”

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He added: “This is a humiliating verdict on both Sadiq, Khan and Labour.

“It is also a damning verdict on ULEZ other similar schemes.”

Mr Fletcher is a prominent critic of ULEZ, as well as Clean Air Zone (CAZ) schemes in force in other parts of the country, branding them a “socialist tax”.

Parliament’s Petitions Committee, of which he is a member, debated two petitions on the topic last month, one related to schemes nationally, the other specifically focusing on London.

The first, attracting more than 55,000 signatures, demands the scrapping of local government powers to charge CAZ, LEZ, and ULEZ, and the second, with more than 26,000 signatures, says: “Amend the 1999 GLA Act to remove the Mayor’s power to impose road use charges”.

Speaking yesterday after Tory candidate Steven Tuckwell won by 495 votes after a recount, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was clear the expansion of the capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) was the reason the Tories triumphed in the seat previously held by former PM Boris Johnson.

Speaking in Selby, where Labour candidate Keir Mather won another by-election, Sir Keir said: “In relation to Uxbridge, we knew it was going to be tough.

“We didn’t take it in 1997 when we had a landslide Labour victory.

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“And ULEZ was the reason we didn’t win there yesterday.

“We know that. We heard that on the doors. And we’ve all got to reflect on that, including the mayor.”

Asked what “reflect” meant and whether it meant the scheme should now be scrapped, Sir Keir added: “We’ve got to look at the result.

“The mayor needs to reflect. And it’s too early to say what should happen next.”

In his victory speech, Mr Tuckwell said that Mr Khan “lost Labour this election”, calling for both the mayor and Sir Keir to “sit up and listen” on the issue.

Speaking prior to the result, a spokeswoman for the Mayor of London said: “The Mayor has been clear that the decision to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone London-wide was not an easy one, but necessary to tackle toxic air pollution and the climate crisis.

“Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year due to air pollution, children are growing up with stunted lungs and thousands of people in our city are developing life-changing illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma.

“We know the ULEZ works as it’s already allowed more than four million people to breathe cleaner air in inner London and harmful nitrogen dioxide concentrations have been cut by nearly half in central London.

The spokeswoman added: “The ULEZ is a very targeted scheme: nine out of ten cars seen driving in outer London are already ULEZ compliant and will not have to pay the charge.”

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