Zac Goldsmith has questioned Sadiq Khan’s judgement and his suitability to lead London at the opening exchanges of tonight’s City A.M. mayoral debate, as the Conservative candidate went on the offensive over accusations that his campaign was “Islamophobic”.
This morning, Labour’s Yvette Cooper wrote in The Times that Goldsmith’s campaign that “started as a subtle dog-whistle is becoming a full blown racist scream”.
Goldsmith responded to the accusations at the debate this evening at the Institute of Directors: “In recent days Sadiq Khan and his supporters have accused of being Islamophobic,” Goldsmith said.
“Faith is irrelevant to anyone’s ability to do this job” but Goldsmith said there were “serious questions” about Khan’s “judgment” and “choices”.
“This is nothing to do with Islam … this is very simply about your judgment,” he said.
“It is right that you are being scrutinised,” Goldsmith said to Khan.
Khan took the opportunity to distance himself from Cooper’s comments, saying she was entitled to her own opinions.
“I don’t think you're racist or Islamophobic,” Khan told Goldsmith in front of the 200-strong audience. While defending himself against accusations of links to extremists, Khan said he had extremists protesting his decision to run for parliament and a fatwa issued against him.
Khan went on to lament the negative state of Goldsmith’s campaign and accused Conservative adviser Lynton Crosby of souring Goldsmith’s policies.
“He [Goldsmith] is a good man. He was fizzing with ideas but these have been drowned out by this campaign."