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Antony Antoniou – Reform UK Northampton North
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
(PPC) 2024 General Election

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London's Looming ULEZ Challenge - Rishi Sunak's Race Against Time

London’s Looming ULEZ Challenge – Rishi Sunak’s Race Against Time

In a mere seven days, Londoners are bracing themselves for what has been described as a “nightmare” – the roll-out of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) across Greater London, accompanied by a race against the clock as Chancellor Rishi Sunak seeks ways to counter Sadiq Khan’s ambitious carbon-cutting initiative.

The impending ULEZ expansion has prompted political turmoil, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Cabinet meticulously weighing options to halt the plan devised by the Mayor of London. It was speculated that a legal loophole might be the escape route, enabling the government to block City Hall’s proposals if deemed inconsistent with national policies.

GB News’ astute political editor, Christopher Hope, revealed recent warnings from government lawyers who cautioned that such legal challenges were likely to fall flat in court. Despite this setback, Number 10 is under growing pressure to intervene before the ULEZ expansion comes into effect on August 29.

A Downing Street source confided, “We have and continue to look at options but they are limited. The people who could stop this tomorrow are the Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan and Sir Keir Starmer.”

Previously touted as a possible antidote, the legal loophole appears to have lost its effectiveness due to concerns of constitutional overreach. As Sunak simultaneously champions air pollution reduction initiatives, blocking a policy that could be aligned with broader government objectives would be seen as conflicting.

Prime Minister Johnson, fresh from a surprising Tory victory in the Uxbridge & South Ruislip by-election, publicly aligned himself with drivers, vowing to be “on their side.” Yet, his plea extended to Khan as well, urging him to reconsider the ULEZ expansion.

Conservative MPs have joined the chorus, urging Sunak’s government to intensify its efforts to halt Khan’s proposed motorist tax. Craig Mackinlay, a prominent Tory backbencher, called upon the Prime Minister to exercise constitutional power to counteract the unpopular tax. Meanwhile, Buckingham MP Greg Smith highlighted the wide-reaching impact of ULEZ, stating, “It hits my constituents in Buckinghamshire badly, too, just as other counties around London, but we have no say.”

In response to mounting criticism, former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan-Smith emphasized the need for concrete evidence of the ULEZ’s environmental impact. He argued that the expansion seemed more like a fundraising endeavor rather than a genuine effort to improve the environment. “I’m up for anything the Government can do to stop this nightmare taking place,” he affirmed.

However, ULEZ’s scope extends beyond political sparring, as concerns arise about the potential health impact on children. Professor Chris Griffiths of Queen Mary’s primary care was approached by London Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy Shirley Rodrigues to reconsider his study’s conclusions, which did not establish definitive evidence of health benefits for children’s lungs.

With the ULEZ expansion looming and tensions running high, the Department for Transport has put the onus on Mayor Khan to justify the expansion, especially in light of the government’s efforts to ease the cost of living for the public. The debate continues to escalate as London inches closer to the August 29 deadline, leaving the city at the crossroads of environmental responsibility, policy implications, and public sentiment.

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