Home News World Europe ‘Biggest risk for London May 5 not June 23’, warns mayoral candidate Goldsmith

‘Biggest risk for London May 5 not June 23’, warns mayoral candidate Goldsmith

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A Sadiq Khan victory in the London mayoral contest would do more damage to the capital than any possible outcome from the referendum on Britain’s EU membership, Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith has claimed.

A Sadiq Khan victory in the London mayoral contest would do more damage to the capital than any possible outcome from the referendum on Britain’s EU membership, Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith has claimed.

While London will “flourish” regardless of whether the UK votes to leave the 28-nation bloc on June 23, victory for the Labour candidate would be a “disaster” from which the city would take a long time to recover, Mr Goldsmith said.

Speaking to the Press Association, he said: “The biggest risk for London is May 5 not June 23, there’s no doubt in my mind about that at all.”

And he made it clear that his concerns related directly to the Tooting MP, who he said was personally to blame for Labour’s shift towards an “anti-business” agenda by running Ed Miliband’s leadership campaign and then nominating Jeremy Corbyn to replace him.

The Tory candidate’s comments mark a ratcheting up in rhetoric with little more than a week to go to the May 5 election to choose a successor to Boris Johnson at City Hall. They follow David Cameron’s warning on Tuesday that “if London sleepwalks into electing Jeremy Corbyn’s candidate the whole country will pay the price”.

Mr Khan has rejected Conservative warnings that he would be the creature of the Labour leader as mayor, insisting he would be “my own man” and stand up for Londoners.

But Mr Goldsmith said: “Sadiq Khan is the principal architect in transforming the Labour Party into the anti-business, anti-everything aggressive political party that it has become. The two are inseparable. A win for Khan is a win for Corbyn.”

He added: “It’s not about a Labour mayor, it’s about Sadiq Khan. Sadiq Khan is a partisan politician who is unwilling even to talk to government, let alone engage with government.

“The most important thing for a mayor of London if they want to be effective is being able to secure a good deal from Government.

“That’s why the job was created, that’s why this post exists.

“Sadiq Khan has at no point ever sought to communicate or negotiate or talk to members of this government.

“That would spell four years of gridlock, bickering, blame and inaction, and would be a disaster …

“It will take us a very long time to recover. I think the threat to London is very, very serious.”

The Tory candidate, who says he will vote for Brexit but will not campaign for it, added: “London will flourish whatever decision is made on the 23rd.

“We have a great and glorious and bright future whatever decision is taken by the British people.”

Mr Goldsmith rejected suggestions that he had fought a divisive campaign, insisting that the separate mailshots which had been sent to different ethnic communities were “normal practice” for parties seeking to reach out to voters.

“The message I’ve given has been the same no matter who I’ve spoken to,” he said.

“It’s about housing, transport, security, it’s about making London the greenest and cleanest city in the world.

“That’s the thread that runs through every piece of literature I’ve put out, every public meeting, it’s been the same message.”

He insisted it was “legitimate” to raise questions about Mr Khan’s appearance on platforms alongside extremist figures – something which has led to accusations of “dog-whistle” politics from Labour.

And he defended Mr Cameron’s decision to attack the Labour candidate in the House of Commons for sharing a platform with south London imam Sulaiman Ghani, who has denied the PM’s claim that he “supports IS” (Islamic State).

“Mr Ghani without any doubt holds extreme views, I don’t think anyone can question that or be in doubt of that,” said Mr Goldsmith.

“But Sulaiman Ghani is just one of very many people with whom Sadiq Khan has shared platforms, people he has given oxygen to, people he has excused when being asked about their opinions.

“This is not about Sadiq Khan’s views on extremism.

“No-one has suggested – myself, my campaign team, anyone I know – that he has extreme views.

“This is a question of judgment.

“Was it right, when we are in the midst of an ideological battle that we are probably losing, to provide so much oxygen, so many platforms, even excuses, to people on the wrong side of that ideological battle.

“Is that right for someone who wants to be mayor of London? I think it puts a big question mark over his judgment.”

Mr Goldsmith rejected suggestions of a lack of energy in his own campaign, which led one newspaper to suggest this week that he was so “self-effacing and apologetic” that he did not appear to really want the Mayor’s job.

And he shrugged off polls which have put Mr Khan as many as 20 points ahead after second preferences are taken into account.

“I don’t agree with that,” he said.

“I think the momentum is with my campaign. That’s what I feel and that’s the message we’re getting.

“I’ve been doing public meetings all over Greater London and it’s been standing room only, a real sense of enthusiasm and urgency.

“My job is to take every opportunity I can between now and the election to talk about my Action Plan for Greater London, to explain it to people, to demonstrate that when I make a promise I deliver it.”

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