Labour Civil War? Starmer and Sadiq Khan Battle over Future of Green Agenda ULEZ Car Tax Scheme

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (left) and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan leave the Rupert and
Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images

A civil war within the left-wing Labour Party is brewing as it grapples with failing to pick up Boris Johnson’s former seat in Parliament in large part due to London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Great Reset-style ULEZ green agenda policy which will tax any car driving in all of London next month.

The Labour Party’s failure to win the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election this week demonstrated that the party is “doing something very wrong”, Labour Leader Sir Kier Starmer said on Saturday.

The Tories managed to hang on to the seat by just a few hundred votes, far below the 7,210 majority secured by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson less than four years ago. However, the victory came as something of a shock given that the Conservatives have been in political freefall over the past year.

Thus, many have pointed to the unpopularity of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s green scheme to extend the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) tax to all 33 boroughs of the city in August. Starting next month, drivers can expect to pay between £12.50 to £27.50 every day for the privilege of driving in London, which opponents will particularly impact working-class people who need to commute in and out of the city for their jobs.

Comment on the election failures, Sir Keir Starmer appeared to make reference to the ULEZ scheme, saying per Sky News: “That result in Uxbridge demonstrates there is never any reason to be complacent and never a reason to rest on our laurels.

“It is reminder that in an election, policy matters… We are doing something very wrong if policies put forward by the Labour Party end up on each and every Tory leaflet.”

Yet despite the Labour leader’s recognition that the ULEZ expansion should probably be dropped, Mayor Khan has only doubled down on his unpopular policy, and bucking the party leadership.

For his part, Khan noted that the Uxbridge seat has never been controlled by the Labour Party during his lifetime.

“I’m quite clear though, the policy to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone is the right one, it was a difficult decision to take but just like nobody would accept drinking dirty water why would you accept dirty air?” he said.

There are also growing murmurs that Khan’s insistence on sticking to the plan could jeopardize his re-election chances next year, with popular City Assembly Member challenger Susan Hall vowing that she would scrap the expansion on “day one” if she were elected.

Reform UK party candidate Howard Cox has gone even further, saying that he would scrap ULEZ in its entirety, including in central London. Last month, Cox accused BBC management of colluding with Mayor Khan’s office to shape coverage of the unpopular scheme. Speaking from an anti-ULEZ protest on Saturday morning outside the BBC’s HQ in London, Cox claimed that orders are still in place mandating local reporters to clear their coverage of ULEZ with the top brass.

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