Starmer refuses to say whether or not he backs a ULEZ expansion delay

Keir Starmer refuses six times to say whether or not he backs a delay to ULEZ expansion – but bizarrely denies he’s sitting on the fence – as Labour civil war escalates over Sadiq Khan’s hated motoring charge

  • Labour leader declines to be drawn into a growing party row over £12.50 charge 

Sir Keir Starmer tonight refused six times to say whether or not he backs postponing London mayor Sadiq Khan’s hated expansion of capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

The Labour leader declined to be drawn into an escalating civil war in his party over the £12.50 daily fee being introduced to all of the capital’s boroughs.

But Sir Keir bizarrely denied he was sitting on the fence in the row over Mr Khan’s determination to push ahead with the ULEZ expansion.

It came after Danny Beales, Labour’s candidate for the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election later this month, demanded a delay to the move.

Mr Khan, a fellow Labour politician, plans to widen ULEZ to the whole of the capital from late August.

Sir Keir Starmer tonight refused six times to say whether or not he backs postponing London mayor Sadiq Khan’s hated expansion of capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

The London mayor (left) plans to expand ULEZ to all London boroughs from late August – but Danny Beales, Labour’s by-election candidate in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, wants a delay

To the fury of many drivers, this will see the £12.50 daily fee for vehicles not meeting minimum requirements apply across London.

Mr Beales, who is hoping to replace ex-prime minister Boris Johnson as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, has warned ‘it’s not the right time’ to extend ULEZ to outer London.

He said he’d heard ‘heart-wrenching stories’ of carers potentially having to give up their job becuase they can’t afford to pay for their car.

Asked tonight in a BBC interview whether he backed Mr Khan’s position or Mr Beales’ position, Sir Keir repeatedly refused to give an answer.

‘Well, look so far as Danny Beales the candidate is concerned, I completely understand his position,’ he said.

‘He’s fighting for what he hopes will be his constituents in that by-election if he wins it.’

Pressed on whether he agreed with Mr Beales, Sir Keir replied: ‘I think we need to understand the context here, which is that there’s a legal requirement to reduce air pollution.

‘That’s the context in which the mayor made his decision.

‘So reducing this to sort of political argument for the sake of the by-election without regard to the background doesn’t make any difference.’

Asked again whether he supported his by-election candidate or Mr Khan, Sir Keir said: ‘I want the candidate to fight for his hopefully constituents.

‘And the mayor obviously has to work within the legal constraints that are imposed on him.’

Sir Keir denied he was sitting ‘on the fence’ over the issue, but refused twice more to give his view on whether he supported Mr Beales’ or Mr Khan’s stance.

He highlighted Mr Khan’s plea for more Government cash to fund a scrappage scheme for non-ULEZ complient vehicles, adding: ‘Where we can I think it’d be good to give more support to people because there is a financial implication of this

‘The mayor wants that support but the Government won’t pivot.

‘But the requirements on air pollution is a legal requirement. In fact, of course, it was a Tory mayor that first introduced ULEZ in the first place.’

Sir Keir suggested both the concerns of Londoners and Mr Khan’s legal obligations on air pollution ‘have to be accommodated’.

Earlier today, the Labour leader had said Mr Beales was ‘right’ to raise concerns about the controversial ULEZ expansion.

Questioned about the situation after giving a speech in Kent this morning, Sir Keir said: ‘Danny Beales is our candidate in Uxbridge, a very good candidate too.

‘And he is rightly raising concern on behalf of what he hopes will be his constituents in relation to ULEZ, because we all understand the impact it has financially.’

Sir Keir pointed out that the original ULEZ in central London was put forward when Boris Johnson was mayor.

‘I think it is important when we have this discussion to properly recognise the context. There is a legal requirement to deal with air pollution,’ Sir Keir said.

‘So it’s not just a political choice that is made in the abstract.’

But he added: ‘Danny Beales is right to say what he has said in sticking up for what he hopes will be his constituents.’

Mr Beales has previously signalled he supported the ULEZ expansion, suggesting those unable to afford it should blame the Tory Government for tanking the economy.

He has also spent the past nine years as a councillor in Labour-run Camden, during which time it demanded ULEZ ‘be expanded London-wide’.

The Conservative candidate for the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election, local councillor Steve Tuckwell, said: ‘It’s a fact that Danny Beales has backed ULEZ expansion to our borough for years from the comfort of his central London Council chamber.

‘Now it’s losing him support on the doorstep, so he’s trying to trick people into thinking he wants it delayed. Local people don’t want a delay, they want it scrapped. Full stop.’

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