The new Prime Minister takes office at a time of national crisis. Rising energy prices and soaring inflation are threatening to inflict just as much economic pain on our communities and businesses as the COVID-19 pandemic and the global financial crisis before it. That’s why I’m committed to putting party politics aside and working constructively with the new Prime Minister in the best interests of London and the whole country.
I want to offer my congratulations to Liz Truss. We come from different political traditions, but I know we share a common desire to see Britain succeed. As the Mayor of our capital city, I’m determined to do whatever I can to help people and businesses weather the current storm, and this includes working in partnership with Downing Street, wherever possible, to deliver the financial relief households and businesses are crying out for.
Liz Truss will be the fourth Conservative Prime Minister since I became the Mayor of London. During this time, there have always been areas where City Hall and Number 10 have co-operated closely – whether it’s in relation to security and counter-terrorism, the public health response to the pandemic, or developing major infrastructure projects, such as the Elizabeth Line, which is a shining example of what can be achieved when we think long-term and come together in the national interest.
“I not only want to see this co-operation continue, but expanded as much as possible.”Sadiq Khan
In London, we are making significant progress on some of the biggest challenges we face – from reducing violent crime and building a record number of homes for Londoners, to tackling air pollution and the climate emergency. But we could be doing even more with greater government support and co-operation.
One of my biggest hopes is that Liz Truss will put a stop to the divisive, anti-London approach that has been pursued by her recent predecessors. What we desperately need now is a Government that is laser-focused on the economy, on investing in our public services and on supporting households through this difficult period, rather than one that is intent on stoking crude culture wars or playing our cities, towns and regions off against each other for political gain.
“London is the engine of the UK economy.”Sadiq Khan
Pre-pandemic, we made a net contribution to the Treasury of almost £40 billion per year. There is no route to reviving the national economy and tackling the cost-of-living emergency that doesn’t run through the capital. That’s why levelling down London, which the last few Prime Ministers have seemed determined to do, hurts everybody and only undermines efforts to raise living standards across the country. The truth is it will be impossible to grow the economy and tame inflation without proper central government investment in London to get our capital city firing on all cylinders.
Sadiq Khan: Liz Truss needs to push ahead with emergency winter package for businesses
In the short-term, the new Prime Minister must take whatever steps necessary to ease the pressures on household budgets to ensure people can keep their heads above water. This should include providing free school meals to all primary school children, uplifting Universal Credit in line with inflation, freezing the energy price cap, and introducing a Lifeline Tariff to ensure the most vulnerable members of our society receive a basic amount of free energy every day. Without significant government assistance on this scale, many Londoners will not only be forced to choose between heating or eating this winter, but some could struggle to do either. We also need to see an ambitious package of help for small and medium-sized businesses and action that is tailored to meet the specific needs of London and our communities. This must include giving me the power to freeze private rents in the capital for two years because London’s renters cannot afford to be caught in a vice-like grip between rising energy bills and hikes to their housing costs.
Levelling down London hurts everyone and only undermines efforts to raise living standards across the countrySadiq Khan
Vitally, grappling the cost-of-living crisis must not be used by the new government as an excuse to renege or water down our country’s climate commitments. This is a big concern given Liz Truss’ record and previous comments on green issues. As we’ve seen this summer, with fires and drought in London caused by extreme temperatures and the horrific flooding and ensuing humanitarian catastrophe in Pakistan, delaying action on climate change simply isn’t an option.
So Liz Truss’ priority must be to provide the urgent help our communities need at the same time as investing in our economy, supporting our public services and meeting our climate obligations. But this can only be achieved by backing, not bashing, London. That’s why I’m hoping that with a new Prime Minister, we can turn the page on the previous anti-London agenda and reset the relationship between central government and our great city. This is how we can continue to build a better, fairer and greener London for everyone, and a stronger, more successful and more prosperous UK too.
Sadiq Khan is the Mayor of London