Sadiq Khan: ‘I don’t want to talk legacy – that’s for people on their way out’

By Staff

Sadiq Khan has said he will serve as the capital’s mayor for as long as Londoners want him as he declined to talk about his legacy during an exclusive sit down interview with MyLondon. Labour’s City Hall incumbent will ask voters for a third term as the city’s leader on May 2.

Asked what he would like his legacy to be, whenever he does step down, Mr Khan said upstairs in the Old Vic Theatre: “I think anybody who talks about legacy does so towards the end of their particular job, their particular career. I’m a long way from thinking about that.”

He did not rule out running again for a fourth stint as London’s mayor, were he to emerge victorious against his Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green, Reform and independent rivals. Asked if his third term would be his last, Mr Khan said: “As long as Londoners lend me their vote, as long as they trust me to do this job, I’ll carry on doing it.

READ MORE: TfL working with experts to replace ULEZ and Congestion Charge with one fee, Sadiq Khan says

“What excites me about this particular election is this is the first time I can hand on heart say there’s a possibility of me being the mayor with a Labour prime minister. That’s what excites me. So let’s wait and see what we can achieve over the next four or so years, if Londoners lend me their vote on May 2.”

The mayor then added that he believes this year’s contest against his Tory rival Susan Hall will be ‘tight’. “I think this election will be the toughest election that I’ve fought”, the mayor said.

This he put down to the way a winner will be selected changing to a first past the post system as opposed to preference votes.

This means, Mr Khan said, Green voters and Liberal Democract voters ‘don’t have the luxury of an insurance policy, giving me their second preference’. Many Londoners, he added, do not have a photo ID, which voters now require to cast their ballot.

‘I’ve got to make sure that police officers know I’m about to go to the local shop or walk the dog’

It has been reported that the mayor is one of the most guarded politicians in the country. Asked if this means he is not allowed to anything that other Londoners are able to do, Mr Khan said: “When we run out of milk, being able to run to the local shop and buy a pint of skimmed milk, it’s a hassle now. Because I’ve got to make sure, obviously, that police officers know I’m about to go to the local shop.

“Just deciding to pick up my coat and taking Luna for a walk, it’s a hassle because I’ve got to make sure there are police officers following Luna and I as we go for a walk. There are lots of things that I would like to do that I can’t do.

“More importantly, I know the anxiety and stress it causes my wife, my daughters, my mum, my siblings, my staff, people who love and care about me, the fact that I’m required to have close police protection because of the threats made to my life. I don’t think anybody should go to work and risk their personal safety.

“I know police officers do on a daily basis. Firefighters do it on a daily basis, and many others do on the front line on a daily basis. I was friends with Jo Cox, who, tragically, was murdered in 2016. I knew David Amess, who was tragically murdered a couple of years ago. I know very well, Stephen Timms, who was stabbed.”

‘I’m not going to say I’m not worried at all because that’s a disrespect to those who care about me’

Asked whether he fears the same could happen to him, the mayor responded: “I’m not somebody who is fatalistic in relation to me. But I know my wife worries about me, I know my daughters worry about me. My mum worries about me, my brothers and sisters worry about me.

“My nephews and nieces worry about me, and so, I’m not going to be blasé and say, ‘listen, I’m not worried at all’ because that’s a disrespect to those people who care about me.”

Despite this constant monitoring, Mr Khan insisted that he does not feel out of touch, stating that he is a ‘pain in the backside’ for his close protection team when using the London Underground and buses, and going for a walk or a run. “I’m not going to be cowered because of what people are seeking to do”, he said.

Asked if threats to his life had ever led to him considering not running for a third term, the mayor said: “No. I’m quite clear that that’s a luxury I don’t have. Because we’ve got so much to do.”

‘In my head, I’m Steven Gerrard’

City Hall’s current boss also talked about his love for football and what he does to unwind. Mr Khan, however, made sure to note that the ‘joy’ of being the mayor is he is ‘never quite sure when it’s business and when it’s pleasure.

Although, to relax, he often goes to see films – the day of the interview, he was going to see Dune: Part Two – goes to gigs and plays football. Asked what position he plays in, the mayor said: “In my head, in my head, I’m a Stevie G Steven Gerrard type running around the pitch and stuff, you know, defender who scores goals and tackles and all the rest of it and stuff.

“But, I’m sure, in practice, I’m not quite as good as I think I am. But, I like scoring goals.”

The mayor says that he ‘doesn’t believe’ current polling that predicts a comfortable win for Labour in the capital. Ms Hall is hoping to gather all the votes she can from Mr Khan’s critics, especially in Outer London, by blasting his expansion of the ULEZ and claiming that the capital’s police and crime commissioner could be doing more to tackle crime.

Mr Khan’s footballing idol from Merseyside is indeed remembered today after his retirement as one of the greatest players ever to grace the game. However, this is to an extent blighted due to, on the verge of his winning a first ever Premier League title in 2014, Liverpool’s number eight famously slipped in his own half during a game against Chelsea at Anfield, gifting the blue team the victory.

The captain of London’s reds will be hoping that history does not repeat itself.

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