Sadiq Khan hits back at Lee Anderson after ‘Dick Turpin’ jibe

Senior Tory accuses mayor of being ‘modern day highwayman’, amid anger over Ulez and Blackwall Tunnel charge

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Friday 18 August 2023 15:03 BST
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Explained: London's Ulez scheme and how it works

Sadiq Khan has fired back at Lee Anderson after the senior Conservative branded the London mayor “Dick Turpin” and a “modern day highwayman”.

The deputy Tory chairman took aim at the Labour mayor over the controversial Ulez (Ultra Low Emission Zone) expansion, and the decision to charge drivers for using the Blackwall Tunnel.

Mr Anderson accused Mr Khan of act of “robbery without violence” and acting like “a thief” – comparing him to legendary Georgian-era gang leader.

“He’s like a modern-day highwayman,” he told GB News, “The man is seen as a thief, and who can disagree with that? First we had the Ulez expansion, and now we have this.

“It’s like Dick Turpin, he’s out robbing people on the highway. The poor motorists have enough to contend with in this country, and he’s hammering them yet again.”

Referring to the mayoral contest in May 2024, when Mr Khan goes up against the Conservatives’ Susan Hall, Mr Anderson added: “Roll on next year, we need to get this man out.”

However, Mr Khan’s spokesperson fired back at the senior Tory’s criticism over the Blackwall tunnel charge – pointing out that it was decided by Boris Johnson.

“The introduction of a toll on the Blackwall Tunnel was confirmed by Boris Johnson when he was the mayor in 2012,” they said.

Transport for London (TfL) confirmed this week motorists will likely start being charged to drive through the Blackwall Tunnel in 2025, when construction work is expected to end on the Silvertown Tunnel nearby.

The fee is being introduced to help pay back the construction cost for the £2bn project in Silvertown aimed at easing congestion in east London.

Khan has faced anti-Ulez protests (PA)

Back in 2012, the then-Tory mayor Mr Johnson accepted that a £2 charge would be needed for the new Silvertown tunnel, which TfL described as the “most appropriate” way of funding the infrastructure.

But motorists – already angry about the £12.50 Ulez charge aimed at combatting air pollution – have described the plan as another “cash grab” by the Labour London mayor.

Twitter user Siama Qadar, who described herself as a “serial entrepreneur”, condemned Mr Khan for “another money-making scheme to batter motorists”.

TfL said the toll will apply to both tunnels to help manage traffic levels. From 2025 drivers using either tunnel will have to pay an as yet undecided fee.

It comes as police revealed that nearly 300 Ulez cameras have been damaged or stolen police said. Vigilantes describing themselves as Blade Runners have cut the cameras’ wires or completely removing the devices.

Keir Starmer and Sadiq Khan at odds over Ulez (PA)

Earlier this week Keir Starmer offer his strongest criticism yet of Ulez, arguing that the scheme was “disproportionately” hitting hard-up Britons during the cost of living crisis.

But Sir Keir risked the wrath of a leading Labour donor Dale Vince – who said he was “disappointed” at the leader’s change of heart on the issue.

Motorists can avoid the charge, now expanded to out London, by making sure their vehicle meets the minimum emissions standards. For petrol cars that means those generally first registered after 2005.

Rishi Sunak has pounced on the issue and sought to portray himself as on the side of “motorists”. The PM has ordered a review into low traffic neighbourhoods and other plans aimed at curbing pollution in city and town centres.

“Nine out of ten cars seen driving in outer London on an average day are already ULEZ compliant and their drivers will not have to pay the charge,” said a spokesperson for Mr Khan.

They added: “For drivers of the most polluting vehicles, Sadiq has announced TfL is making major changes to the scrappage scheme from next Monday, to make every Londoner with a non-compliant car eligible for a £2,000 grant to replace their car – as well as doubling the grants for wheelchair accessible vehicles to £10,000 and increasing the scrappage payments and retrofit grants for vans.”

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