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Sadiq Khan has sparked a backlash after claiming that the coronavirus pandemic has created an “existential threat” to central London. BBC London Politic’s host Samantha Simmons suggested that the Mayor’s vision for London was “extremely pessimistic” and wondered why he was not a “cheerleader” for London. Viewers largely agreed, claiming that Mr Khan himself was the “threat” to London.
The BBC host said: “Sadiq Khan has told the Observer Newspaper this morning that he believes Covid poses an existential threat to central London. Do you agree with him?”
The Centre for London’s Richard Brown responded that he was “optimistic” compared to Mr Khan.
He explained: “I am inclined to think people will start wanting to go back into central London when we get a vaccine, when people feel safe again.
“But it will be different. People will probably mix working in the office and working from home.”
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He added: “We will see a re-balancing, a new type of work-life balance, and more people committing into central London from wider areas.
“I’m optimistic about the future of central London but I do think it will be different, and there will be job losses and casualties along the way.”
Ms Simmonds followed this up by asking Marsha De Cordova, the Labour MP for Battersea: “This is axtremely pessimistic prospect posed by Sadiq Khan.
“Is he really being enough of a cheerleader for London? Where is his vision for bringing back the economy of central London?”
Ms De Cordova responded: “I think Sadiq Khan has been a good leader for London. He wants to protect Londoners and protect our economy.”
In his interview with the Observer, Mr Khan warned that London faces a huge threat if people in future choose to work in the suburbs rather than in the heart of the capital.
He said: “I think we’ve got to accept the fact that there is potentially an existential threat to central London as we know it.
“Are there going to be satellite-type offices in outer London because people may not want to work from home but in a co-working space in zone 5 or zone 4?”
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Viewers took aim at Mr Khan, tweeting that: “Sadiq Khan is an existential threat to central London.”
One user said: “I think the threat is Khan himself. He perpetrates division and hate.”
Another added: “Sadiq Khan got himself to blame for contributing to it with the tax increases in travelling in.”
Mr Khan’s rival candidate for mayor, Shaun Bailey, accused Mr Khan of “wasteful spending”.
He tweeted: “It’s no surprise that he bankrupted TfL. He wasted £9.56bn.
“And now he wants to increase your council tax by 21 percent. Don’t let him.”
Boris Johnson blamed Sadiq Khan for leaving London bankrupt, amid growing concern over the capital’s finances.
During Prime Minister’s Questions earlier this week, Mr Johnson, who is also Mr Khan’s predecessor as London Mayor, accused him of “blowing” Transport for London’s finances.
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