Sadiq, more Londoners voted Leave than voted for you
The Labour Party conference promised to be a hotbed of Brexit controversy, and we’ve not been disappointed. Labour’s equivocal Brexit stance has led to a neverending pageant of conflicting statements. But London mayor Sadiq Khan became Labour’s foremost anti-Brexit voice this week.
In his conference speech, Khan once again hinted that there could be a second referendum. He said on Monday that he saw no Brexit deal emerging that would be good enough to accept without first putting it to the public. Speaking to the London Evening Standard, he said it was possible he would push for a second referendum commitment in the next manifesto. He still insists he ‘respects’ the result of the original vote, though.
In trying to overturn Brexit, Khan is not only undermining British democracy as a whole – he is also turning his back on Leave voters in London. Though the capital is seen as the heartland of Remain, Leavers make up a significant portion of his electorate.
Yes, Remain won 59.9 per cent of the vote in London. But that still leaves 40.1 per cent who voted Leave. This amounts to 1,513,232 people, which is 17 per cent more than voted for Khan to become mayor. You’d think it would be wise for London’s elected mayor to rise above partisan politics and to represent all Londoners, including those he disagrees with.
In response to a letter criticising him for his anti-Brexit stance from the Leavers of London, a networking group for London-based Brexit voters which I founded, Sadiq said he was committed to ‘ensuring the government delivers the best possible Brexit for London’.
In practice, this seems to mean undermining a national democratic vote, enraging Leavers in his own backyard and confirming non-Londoners’ suspicions that the capital thinks it is above the rest of the country. Khan has become the petulant posterboy for this divisive message.
Lucy Harris is founder of Leavers of London. @LondonLeavers