London mayor Sadiq Khan is undoubtedly a strong campaigning politician. It scooped him the top slot in City Hall after all. However, Khan runs the risk of seeming detached from the needs of Londoners.
Some companies that deal with him say he appears disengaged and point to his love of photo opportunities and a schedule of foreign business trips. Later this month, Khan and deputy mayor for business Rajesh Agrawal will lead a trade delegation of London tech companies to North America.
While one lobbying group says that the mayor’s staff have appeared inexperienced at times, they deny the mayor has been “disengaged”, and insist Khan has been keen to sit down with business. Their interpretation of his style is that Khan has sought to play it cool in the early days of his tenure, with many in his team citing an eight-year plan, stretching over two mayoral terms. The theory is that by taking a more cautious approach, Khan can avoid the staff turnover that marred the early tenure of his predecessor Boris Johnson.
City Hall maintains that Khan has forged a strong relationship with London businesses since his election earlier this summer through regular meetings, both before and after the Brexit vote.
But the mayor needs tangible results on the ground, and to honour pledges made. So far his record has been mixed. His promise to freeze fares turned out to be more complex than that simple statement suggests. Prior to election, he alluded to building 50,000 new homes annually in the capital. That will never happen. The Night tube has launched successfully, but was in train before he took power.
Read more: Rough & the smooth: Khan’s first 100 days
Protecting the City through the Brexit negotiation process may be a chance for the mayor to really make his mark. To his credit, he spearheaded the #LondonIsOpen campaign to highlight that London remains open for business following the referendum result. He has met with chancellor Philip Hammond as well as Brexit secretary David Davis and International Trade secretary Liam Fox.
That is all well and good, but as well as securing a seat for our city in the UK’s negotiations with the EU, the high flying mayor needs to keep his feet on the ground and build a London that actually works for Londoners.