Sir Keir Starmer has pulled a screeching u-turn on plans to expand ULEZ-style low emission zones across the country, after his party’s unexpected defeat in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election last month.
In May, a draft of Labour’s policy handbook – a provisional blueprint of what was likely to shape Sir Keir’s 2024 election manifesto – was leaked, revealing plans to support and expand clean air zones.
The handbook declared: “Labour supports the principle of clean air zones and recognises the huge damage to human health caused by air pollution and the damage to our climate caused by carbon emissions from polluting vehicles.
“However, they must be phased in carefully, mindful of the impacts on small businesses and low-paid workers, and should be accompanied with a just transition plan to enable people to switch affordably to low-emission vehicles.”
It’s now been revealed such proposals have been junked entirely, after Sir Keir said: “We are doing something very wrong if policies put forward by the Labour Party end up on each and every Tory leaflet.”
With the Tories hoping to make Labour’s anti-motorist policies a key election battle next year, the handbook proposals to expand clean air zones were “scored out” at Labour’s recent National Policy Forum.
A Labour source told the Telegraph that the policy has been officially dropped and will not feature in the revised proposals which will feed into the party’s manifesto.
At the forum, Labour’s defeated Uxbridge candidate Danny Beales said ULEZ had “cut us off at the knees”.
The Tories successfully turned the by-election into a ULEZ referendum, beating Labour against all odds by 495 votes.
Labour now appears completely divided over the policy, with Sadiq Khan as well as Labour-run cities like Newcastle, Bristol and Birmingham supporting clean air zones.
York MP Rachel Maskell told the paper: “I think Sadiq Khan called it right when he said we wouldn’t accept dirty water, so why accept dirty air?
“I would say it’s absolutely essential that we make those interventions that make a difference.”
The Tories’ candidate for Mayor of London, Susan Hall, mocked the idea Labour had given up on ULEZ zones just because their expansion won’t appear in the party’s 2024 manifesto.
She said: “Everyone knows Labour won’t stop with Sadiq Khan’s Ulez expansion, no matter what they say.”
“Angela Rayner has admitted that she wants to see Ulez schemes all over the country. Sadiq Khan’s tax will punish poorer families who rely on their cars, and Keir Starmer was too weak to tell him to stop.
“That is why we must stop them both at the ballot box in 2024.”
Ms Hall has vowed to abolish Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion on day one should she win the keys to City Hall in next year’s mayoral election.