Boris Johnson used Prime Minister’s Questions to launch an unwise and unmerited two-pronged attack on London’s Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan.
First he said that financial problems suffered by Transport for London (TfL) were Khan’s fault.
The Department for Transport is, it seems, refusing to provide £5.65 billion to keep TfL running after it suffered huge losses due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. It is offering a “papering-over-the-cracks” funding package that comes with a demand that Khan accepts measures including higher council tax, a larger congestion charge zone and higher tube and bus fares – including the removal of free travel for children and young people. Otherwise, the threat is that the Westminster government will take over control of TfL from City Hall.
Asked if he was going to inflict a congestion charge on four million Londoners who had already been afflicted with Covid-19 and financial ruin, Johnson said: “The current Mayor of London had effectively bankrupted TfL before coronavirus had even hit and left a massive black hole in its finances… Any expansion of the congestion charge or any other measure taken to improve the finances of TfL are entirely the responsibility of the bankrupt current Labour Mayor of London.”
Responding to a further question from Tory Bob Blackman, Johnson became extremely concerned with self-justification: “The black hole in [the] finances of TfL, the bankruptcy of TfL, which, by the way, was left in robust financial health by the previous Mayor—it certainly was—is entirely the fault of the current Labour Mayor of London, with his grossly irresponsible demagogic fare policies, which, I may say, were never pursued by the previous Mayor of London, and the fault lies entirely with him.”
But Johnson’s claims were put to rest within minutes by the fact-checkers at the BBC’s Politics Live:
Wow. Johnson's claim that @SadiqKhan is incompetent revealed as a lie: he has reduced the capital's deficit by 71 per cent since taking over from Johnson. TfL's problems are Covid-related and not to do with Khan. #PMQs #PoliticsLive
— Mike Sivier (@MidWalesMike) October 21, 2020
Khan himself brought figures directly relating to TfL to TV audiences later:
"Our prime minister today… has lied"
Sadiq Khan reacts after Boris Johnson told MPs that the London mayor had "effectively bankrupted TfL before coronavirus had even hit"
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) October 21, 2020
Not satisfied with one lie, Johnson also used PMQs to claim that Hammersmith Bridge is falling down because of Khan’s “incompetence”: “Hammersmith bridge has been closed thanks entirely to the incompetence of the current Labour Mayor of London, and that Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate, is going to reopen it, which is the best thing possible.”
In fact, the incompetent who failed to repair the bridge at the right time was Boris Johnson himself.
The bridge was built 133 years ago and is structurally unsafe after decades of failure – by successive political authorities – to repair it while traffic for which it was never intended used it.
It was closed in 2014 and repairs could have been authorised in 2016 – but the mayor at the time – Boris Johnson – refused to authorise them.
Boris Johnson blaming Labour mayor for the closure of Hammersmith Bridge is especially ridiculous if you double check who was mayor in 2014 when it was closed and in 2016 when the repairs were nixed
— Harriet Marsden (@harriet1marsden) October 21, 2020
Instead, Boris Johnson spent around £50 million on consultants working on his vanity ‘Garden Bridge’ project that was ultimately cancelled.
Oh, and didn’t a bomb go off there as well?
Before 2010, I lived near Hammersmith Bridge. It was closed x2 when I lived there, once after a bomb & once because of its dangerous state.
The problems long pre-date Sadiq Khan's tenure as mayor, were exacerbated by the bomb attack, & govt has refused to foot the repair bill.
— Aunty Janet #FBPE🕷️🐄 (@scarlettpeach) October 21, 2020
The public were having none of Boris Johnson‘s lies:
First the eyewash about the Garden Bridge.
Now the lies about Hammersmith Bridge.
Then more lies about TFL.
Duplicitous Johnson spitefully tries to blame Sadiq Khan for Tory government's refusal to fund repairs.
And blames Khan for Tory refusal to support TFL during Covid!
— Cora Livesey (@coralivesey) October 21, 2020
Apparently Hammersmith Bridge, a 133 year old bridge that had little maintenance for much of that time, and which suffered structural failures from traffic it wasn't designed for, and warmer climate especially the 2019 heatwave…is only closed cos of Sadiq, according to Johnson.
— Universal Basic Elainovision (@scattermoon) October 21, 2020
Hammersmith Bridge, built on Victorian times is unfit for purpose.
It's structurally unstable, can't cope with too much sun and needs replacing.
The Government have refused to fund it.
Also, GARDEN BRIDGE ring a bell? https://t.co/nLXoz8dAuO
— Alex Tiffin (@RespectIsVital) October 21, 2020
Live scenes of Boris Johnson and Shaun Bailey opening up Hammersmith Bridge pic.twitter.com/mIwJ3OXneC
— Mo-Mo (@ImaginaryCard) October 21, 2020
Shaun Bailey has agreed that he would re-open Hammersmith Bridge if he became London Mayor…
It’s an embarrassment to our city that @SadiqKhan has let Hammersmith Bridge fall down.
— Shaun Bailey (@ShaunBaileyUK) October 21, 2020
… he just didn’t say he would repair it first. So members of the public have drawn their own conclusions about what he would do:
Friendly reminder that Hammersmith Bridge needed repairs when Boris was Mayor, but he ignored it. He did spend £53 million on a garden bridge, which never existed, cause he's a fucking idiot. Shaun Bailey will probably suggest a zip wire across the river. https://t.co/ir0eUKocKl
— Stuart Swanton (@StuartSwanton) October 21, 2020
Yes indeed: “Shaun Bailey will probably suggest a zip wire across the river.”
The issue of the bridge can be summed up in this tweet:
According to the Prime Minister; Sadiq Khan has caused the historic structural issues of Hammersmith Bridge, in relation to the 2019 heatwave.
— Loft4Words (@Loft4W) October 21, 2020
That’s right – Boris Johnson can indeed make it up. And he did.
But we know the facts. All he has done is show the world he’s the stupidest kind of liar – and that his lickspittle Bailey should never be given elected office anywhere.
When Khan became London Mayor, he was voted in with the highest personal mandate of any UK politician in history.
Johnson’s words today may help ensure that he is re-elected with a mandate that is even higher.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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