A Labour shadow Cabinet minister has privately admitted that the party has concerns over winning the by-election caused by Boris Johnson because of the unpopularity of London Mayor Sadiq Khan and his ULEZ proposals.
The senior shadow minister told Express.co.uk: “Look it is certainly not in the bag. In the end, it could literally come down to who is more unpopular Rishi Sunak and his Government or Sadiq Khan.”
It comes as the Conservatives have selected their candidate Steve Tuckwell, a resident and party member in the constituency.
He last night overtly stated that he will campaign on the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which will mean many people living in outer London will have to pay a £12.50 tax per day they use the roads.
Mr Tuckwell said: “Uxbridge cannot afford a Labour MP who backs Khan’s plan to stop residents living their lives the way they choose and make us pick up the tab for his mistakes, under his ULEZ expansion.”
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He added: “If Labour wins in Uxbridge however – it will send Sadiq Khan a clear message that he can expand his ULEZ and close our police station. A vote for the Conservative Party will tell him he can’t get away with it.”
Already a briefing note has been sent out by the Tories on how Labour’s candidate Danny Beales, a Camden councillor, for the seat spent six years campaigning to expand ULEZ.
The issue could become a taster for the London Mayoral election next year where the ULEZ plans have thrown doubt on Mr Khan being able to win again despite the Tories struggling in the polls.
There has been speculation that Labour may ditch Mr Khan and put in a new candidate who “does not carry the same baggage”, as one MP noted.
Brent North MP Dawn Butler and Tooting MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan are the two favourites to replace him.
One Labour source said: “If we actually lose Uxbridge and South Ruislip with all the chaos in the Tories at the moment it will raise serious questions about Sadiq.”
According to the Tory briefing, the Labour candidate has been part of efforts to expand ULEZ since he was elected as a Camden councillor in 2014.
In March 2015 Camden Council protested that the initially proposed ULEZ area was not wide enough and Camden Labour Councillor Sally Gimson, then Camden Cabinet member for Sustainability and Environment called ‘for strengthening and widening the ULEZ’ by the Mayor of London.
In October 2017 Danny Beales was then appointed Cabinet Member on Camden Council for Planning, Regeneration, and Economic Growth.
A month later the Camden Council whose administration he was part of called for ULEZ to “be expanded London-wide” in response to Transport for London’s ULEZ consultation.
In the same month, Camden Council also submitted that the ULEZ charge level was not high enough while calling for “earlier implementation” in its response to the ULEZ consultation.
Mr Khan has only given drivers nine months’ notice of his plan to expand ULEZ to Uxbridge and South Ruislip, despite giving two and a half years’ notice before the previous expansion of the zone.
The Conservative brief also claims that as a result, the average price of a ULEZ-compliant car has increased by over £5,000 since 2021, “an unaffordable expense for families facing rising living costs”.
The Tories also note that there are also more non-compliant vans needing to be replaced in London than there are ULEZ-compliant vans for sale across the whole of the UK, driving up prices.
The £12.50-a-day charge means that around 200,000 non-compliant vehicles – diesel engines older than 2015 and petrol vehicles older than 2005 – could cost owners up to 4,500 a year.
Labour, instead will be hoping to focus on the circumstances of Boris Johnson’s departure and the 90-day suspension he would have received from the Privileges Committee if he had remained as an MP for allegedly deliberately misleading Parliament.
However, a recent poll shows that had Mr Johnson stood in a by-election in the seat he would have won again.