London Mayor Sadiq Khan accused of dismissing concerns of Ulez protesters as "far-right"

London Mayor Sadiq Khan accused of dismissing concerns of Ulez protesters as “far-right”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been criticised for his comments regarding protesters who rallied against his plan to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez).

Speaking at a ‘People’s Question Time’ event at Ealing Town Hall on Thursday, Mr Khan decried what he described as a “far-right” element among the protesters.

While the majority of the audience members at the event were concerned about the financial impact of the Ulez expansion, some protesters outside the venue were cited as holding conspiracy theories about so-called “15-minute cities” and the supposed introduction of “social credit systems” in Britain.

Signs held by some of the protesters claimed that the scheme would result in an “end of free movement” and a “UN agenda.” Others depicted Mr Khan with both a swastika and a hammer-and-sickle symbol.

In response to heckles from the audience, Mr Khan accused some protesters of being part of the far-right, Covid-deniers, vaccine-deniers, and Tories.

Conservative Assembly Member Peter Fortune criticised the Mayor’s comments, stating that Mr Khan was painting anyone who disagreed with him as far-right and dismissing legitimate concerns.

The Ulez currently covers the area inside the North and South Circular Roads, but Mr Khan intends to expand the zone to cover all of Greater London from August 29.

Drivers of non-compliant vehicles within the Ulez have to pay a daily charge of £12.50.

Opposition to the Ulez expansion has come from councils in outer London and the home counties, who argue that the scheme will do little to improve air quality and is being introduced at the worst possible time due to the cost of living crisis.

However, Mr Khan claims that the expansion will lead to five million more Londoners breathing cleaner air and highlights the fact that around 4,000 premature deaths in London per year are due in part to poor air quality.

The controversy surrounding the Ulez expansion highlights the difficult balance that must be struck between addressing the serious issue of air pollution and ensuring that the financial burden is not disproportionately borne by those who can least afford it.

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