Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has admitted he is embarrassed by his party's failure to win the backing of British businesses.
"It's a huge embarrassment," Khan told City A.M. in an interview yesterday, pointing to an incident last year when former shadow chancellor Ed Balls was unable to name a single Labour supporter from the business community. "We all have a senior moment, but it was embarrassing."
When asked about a recent ComRes poll showing that London firms overwhelmingly see his Conservative rival, Zac Goldsmith, as being more pro-business, Khan said: "I'm the Labour candidate, it's not surprising that businesses when they're asked about the Labour candidate associate me with their views on the Labour party.”
But Khan was quick to add: “I have to accept and take it on the chin that in 2015 there was a perception that we were anti-business. Now I’m running to be mayor, I’m my own man and I’m setting out my own vision of what I think London needs."
Khan has struggled to distance himself from Labour's new frontbench, having nominated Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader last summer. Khan told City A.M. he does not regret the nomination, but added it was "really important" for voters to understand that he never backed Corbyn's leadership and is standing "as his own man".
Khan will today reveal his business manifesto, which includes a new pledge to protect office spaces for small businesses and start-ups by amending planning rules and allocating new commercial spaces in residential and mixed-use developments.
Khan claims that the capital has lost space for over 120,000 jobs as a result of developments turning commercial space into residential developments.
In addition to reversing this trend, the Labour candidate has also pledged to boost Londoners' skills, appoint a business advisory board and make data recorded by mayoral bodies available for use by London’s businesses.