LONDON: Mayor Sadiq Khan has accused the prime minister of not having spoken to him for months during the coronavirus pandemic. The Mayor of London said he had been lobbying Boris Johnson on the use of face masks, but that the last time he had spoke to him was around two and a half months prior.
“The last time I spoke to him was the last time there was a Cobra meeting, which was in early May,” Mr Khan told the Press Association news agency.
“I find it astonishing the Prime Minister of a country during a pandemic isn’t holding Cobra.
“I find it equally astonishing that the Prime Minister isn’t engaging with the mayor of the capital city.
“But look, it’s for him to explain why he’s not doing so, I’m keen to make sure that we make London as safe as we can during this pandemic and our teams work with the Government, even though it’s not the Prime Minister.”
Mr Khan’s Tory counterpart in the upcoming Mayor of London election suggested he had been deliberately locked out of the briefings because the government did not like him passing on details of their discussions to the public.
As early as mid-April Mr Khan said face masks needed to be made compulsory on public transport, when the government was still advising against their use for fear there would not be enough to go around.
On 18 June Mr Khan said masks should be worn in all shops, with the national government taking up his advice on 14 July a month later, for retail businesses in England.
The Mayor of London was due to be up for re-election in May, but the contest was postponed until next year on account of the pandemic. Polls suggest Mr Khan will roundly beat his Conservative opponent Shaun Bailey, who claims the incumbent has mismanaged Transport for London – a popular belief among Conservative activists.
Mr Bailey told talkRADIO last week: “Sadiq Khan complained he wasn’t invited to COBRA meetings, top level meetings with things that are being discussed in private so as to not cause a panic in the country.
“He was invited to a meeting and the first thing he did was to come out of that meeting and break that meeting’s confidentiality. He told us that school might be closed down, which could have caused a great panic. “He was asked not to divulge any information and he did. So that’s why he cannot be trusted. The Government won’t speak to him because everything they tell him, it turns into a political game.”
TfL, which ordinarily receives no operating subsidy and funds its services from fares, has faced a dramatic drop in income during the pandemic as commuters stayed off public transport. The government has provided £1.6 billion in emergency funding for the operator, but with conditions such as ending free travel for the young and old and street-level measures to enable social distancing.