Mayor 'provoked Tube strike'

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Indy Politics

A Labour MP today said there was a "real suspicion" that Boris Johnson's fingers were "all over" the provocation of the strike on London Underground (LU).

Andrew Dismore (Hendon) said Mr Johnson, the Mayor of London, had "interfered" and caused a planned suspension of the strike to be lifted.

He told the Commons that the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union had signed an agreement on Tuesday evening to stop the strike going ahead.

But just 35 minutes later, LU management told the union they had made a phone call and could no longer abide by the agreement, he said.

During Commons exchanges on upcoming business, Mr Dismore said: "Could we have a debate to establish exactly to whom that phone call was made because there's a real suspicion that the Mayor of London's fingers are all over the provocation of this dispute.

"I think members ought to be aware if the Mayor of London interfered in this and caused the suspension of the strike to be lifted."

Commons Leader Harriet Harman said Mr Johnson should "play his part in bringing all sides together" to make sure that London's transport network was working properly.

She added: "What we don't need is megaphone diplomacy on any side, what we don't need is soundbites from people.

"What we need is a proper public transport system."

Mr Johnson's spokesman said: "The Mayor had no involvement in the negotiations.

"These were led by Richard Parry, the managing director of London Underground, whom the Mayor entrusted to deliver the best result for Londoners.

"The RMT leadership is being duplicitous when they say that there was an agreement on the table.

"In fact, only a version that the RMT were proposing existed. LU made the very reasonable request that the RMT suspend strike action so that this could be worked through.

"However the RMT leadership refused to continue or give the talks more time and walked out.

"Londoners will be infuriated by their behaviour and will join us in calling for the RMT to suspend this strike immediately and return to negotiations."