Sadiq Khan has launched his mayoral re-election campaign with a focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs” for Londoners affected by the coronavirus crisis.
The Labour incumbent described the forthcoming May contest – postponed from last year due to the pandemic – as a “two-horse race” between himself and Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey.
On a visit a north London cafe on Thursday, Mr Khan outlined his vision for a second term as he seeks to “build an ever-better London” in the aftermath of Covid-19.
“If I’m re-elected to be the Mayor of London again, the mantra for the second term is going to be jobs, jobs, jobs,” he told reporters.
“It’s really important, from City Hall, we do all that we can to protect the jobs that we have, to support job creation.
“But also for those Londoners who have either lost their jobs or will lose their jobs, we help them get back into work as soon as possible.”
Mr Khan pledged to maximise City Hall expenditure to support London’s recovery and help create or retain jobs for residents, as well as to “transform” small business support in the capital.
He also promised to get central London’s economy back on track by encouraging Londoners and domestic tourists to return to the West End.
Asked if he thinks voters in the capital will get behind him, Mr Khan pointed to his focus on tackling crime, building council homes and cleaning up the city’s air.
“But also over the last five years, I have stood up repeatedly for London’s values against Donald Trump, against Brexit, and against Boris Johnson,” he added.
Mr Khan welcomed the extension of the business rates holiday and furlough scheme in Wednesday’s Budget but criticised the Government for a lack of “vision” for both the capital and the country.
“Unfortunately, what we saw yesterday from the Chancellor’s Budget was seeking to level up the country by making London poorer,” he said.
“What the Government needs to realise is, if our country is going to recover, they need London firing on all cylinders, and that means supporting London’s recovery rather than hampering it.”
He said he will focus on having a “positive campaign” which is “fizzing with ideas”.
He will use his first speech of the campaign on Thursday to call for a “1945-style programme” for the capital’s economic recovery.