London Mayor Sadiq Khan has greeted the New Year with the message that the capital is “proud to be a global, European city” as around 100,000 people gathered to watch the annual fireworks spectacular beside the Thames. Khan, who will seek election for a second term at City Hall on 7 May, highlighted London’s coming role in hosting key fixtures in the international 2020 European football championship, including its semi-finals and final in July, saying “our national game has the remarkable ability to bring people together”.
Khan’s stress on London’s European bonds despite the UK being set to leave the European Union on 31 January reflects his strong identification with the campaign to remain in the EU and the views of the issue of the majority of Londoners, who voted by 60 per cent to 40 against leaving in the 2016 referendum. He is continuing to use the hashtag London Is Open, the name of a campaign coined in the aftermath of the EU vote to emphasis that London continues to welcome international visitors, workers and investment.
With the 2020 mayoral race sure to intensify in the coming weeks, the Labour Mayor has been enjoying big opinion poll leads over all his rivals, including second-placed Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate, whose Twitter output in the run up to New Year maintained its focus on violent crime.
In a pinned video message posted yesterday, Bailey repeated his argument that Khan has shifted blame from the problem and said the story of 2019 has been “the record amount of homicides in London” and that young people have told him they are “more concerned about their safety than about their futures”. The number of homicides recorded in London increased for the fourth year in a row in 2019, to 149, though more killings took place in the capital every year this century until 2008 and in all but two years of the 1990s.
Two other mayoral contenders, Green Party national co-leader and London Assembly Member Sian Berry and the Liberal Democrats’ Siobhan Benita, also used Twitter to look ahead.
Berry wrote that “2020 gives us a chance to act for the climate and elect long overdue Green Mayors for our cities,” and linked to an article she’s written on this theme, which also refers to mayoral election in other English cities.
In a video message in which she held a mug with a pro-EU slogan, Benita said there would be “a lot of work to do” in 2002 following the election of a majority Conservative national government. Addressing “liberals” “progressives” and “people at the centre of our politics”, she listed the need for a “safer London, a greener London and a kinder London” in which more people share in what London has to offer as key themes for her mayoral bid.
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