Sadiq Khan has been branded as ‘the missing man’ during the coronavirus pandemic (Image: Getty)
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In an interview with the Sunday Express, Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate to replace Mr Khan next year, pointed out that the “grandstanding mayor” is hard to get off television if US President Donald Trump is due to visit the UK but has been absent in the biggest crisis to hit London since the Blitz in the Second World War.
Mr Bailey spoke out in a week where Mr Khan’s mismanagement of Transport for London (TfL) saw the tube, train and bus network come within hours of shutting down because of a £1.9 billion black hole in its finances.
TfL was only saved by a last minute bailout by the government after Mr Khan had spent months denying that the operating body had any financial problems.
Mr Bailey said Khan had “lied” about the TfL problem to Londoners “there is no sugar coating it”.
He added that a fares freeze had “only benefited tourists” not the 4.5 million travel card holders while denying the network £640 million of much needed investment and will result in a huge hike in fares down the line.
There has also been fury at the way Mr Khan has threatened the UK’s economic recovery by “whacking up” the congestion charge making it even more expensive to drive into London.
Mr Bailey claimed the London Mayor is only interested in “virtue signalling”.
TfL was only saved by a last minute bailout by the government (Image: Getty)
And his handling of the coronavirus crisis also saw frontline transport workers left without personal protection equipment which Mr Bailey claims means there is a death rate among them five times higher than faced by staff in the NHS.
Mr Bailey said: “Sadiq Khan has never made a decision and coronavirus, the impact that is having means you have to make many decision very quickly.
“So I am not surprised about his inaction but what I am surprised about is just how absent he has been. It has been astonishing to me. He is the missing man in this crisis.”
He went on: “If I look at the indecision, he has never made any decision where he has not been dragged to the table. Yet he had the cheek to take credit for it. Anything from VRUs, the anti-violence units he had to be dragged to the table.
“He was pro Heathrow [expansion] in the beginning when it suited him at the very end he became anti-Heathrow [expansion].
Saddiq Khan’s handling of the coronavirus crisis also saw transport workers left without PPE (Image: Getty)
“The exciting thing about this level of government is that you have a budget you can do things.
“This is the action end of government and you should be taking actions on behalf of London.”
Mr Bailey said that the Labour Mayor’s only policy is to use the position to become leader of the Labour Party one day.
He added: “The whole Donald Trump thing, love him or hate Donald Trump, he is the President of America. That is our closest trading partner, we need to do a deal with him. He would never deal with him because he has some petty argument to make himself look good.
“This whole thing of going after Donald Trump, what for? What has it yielded for Londoners? Has it made my kids safer? Has it made it cheaper to live here? Has it built someone’s business? Has it given someone a job? No. It is just all done to make Sadiq Khan look good.”
Mr Bailey said that if he had been Mayor he would have played a much more high profile role and focussed on protecting TfL and other staff in London.
He would have redeployed train and bus drivers to tackle peak times as well as ordering deep cleans of all public transport vehicles after they had completed a service.
He added: “I would also have been very clear about who in London was allowed to work. At one point he was following the PM’s advice and then he wasn’t and caused all kinds of confusion. He came out of a Cobra meeting and let slip schools might be closed and caused a bit of a panic. I wouldn’t do those things.”
But Mr Bailey said that the key issue going forward is protecting employment in London which is being undermined by Mr Khan’s “virtue signalling” congestion charge.
He said: “People like a woman I met this week who is a florist who does deliveries will go out of business. She said the congestion charge all on its own will wipe my business out. I employ people part time, so that’s three of us unemployed.”