Sadiq Khan sets out stall for young people as he is sworn in as London mayor

The mayor said he wants to make free school meals permanent in London’s state primary schools.

Sadiq Khan and his wife Saadiya
Sadiq Khan and his wife Saadiya (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Sadiq Khan began his third term as London mayor on Tuesday with a pledge to make the capital the best city in the world to grow up in.

The Labour incumbent won a historic third term at the polls last week, becoming the first London mayor to do so, with a majority of some 275,000 over Conservative rival Susan Hall.

Speaking at a declaration of office ceremony held in the Tate Modern, Mr Khan set out his stall for the capital’s young people and nightlife.

“It’s humbling to have the results we had on Thursday”, Mr Khan told the PA news agency.

“It was a hard election because Londoners know the last eight years have been tough, we have been rowing against the tide of a Conservative government.

“I want London to be a byword for opportunity, the best place in the world for people to grow up in, and that means supporting young people.”

Mr Khan said he wants to make free school meals permanent in London’s state primary schools, fund more youth clubs and mental health support, as well as invest in high-quality mentoring.

The mayor said he was proud that his campaign of positivity was able to overcome what he considered to be divisive and dishonest Tory tactics.

He said: “We had a Conservative candidate whose campaign was extremely negative, somebody who was spreading misinformation, fake information and lies, so we had to respond and rebut that at the same time as trying to put forward a positive vision for our city – a fairer, greener, safer London.

“I’m really proud that this city has rewarded that positive campaign and rejected the Conservative campaign.”

Sadiq Khan and his wife Saadiya pose for photographers on the Millennium Bridge
Sadiq Khan and his wife Saadiya pose for photographers on the Millennium Bridge (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Though Mr Khan said he would always “shake hands” after a contentious debate, he urged politicians to have greater consideration towards the knock-on dangers of divisive rhetoric.

“It is important that those politicians who are irresponsible understand the consequences”, he said, adding: “It means people like me need police protection, it means threats to my family, it means people protesting by my home, it means my wife and children being incredibly distressed.

“I think all of us should reflect on our behaviour and the impact it has on others. I speak as somebody who was close friends of Jo Cox and have a huge amount of respect for David Amess.”

Throughout the mayoral contest, Mr Khan repeatedly denied reported plans to introduce a pay-per-mile road charging scheme.

The mayor arrived at the Tate Modern on foot, walking across Millennium Bridge in a green linen suit from Hackney-based Percival, flanked by his wife, Saadiya.

During his speech at the art gallery, Mr Khan said: “It would be nice to take a moment to celebrate becoming the first person in British political history to win successive victories over Count Binface.”

(PA Graphics/Press Association Images)

He added: “If you need another reason to love London, Count Binface easily beat Britain First.”

Standing behind a lectern which read London for Everyone, Mr Khan described London as “a city of progress, pluralism and endless possibility”, where the “story is one written by people of all faiths, all ethnicities and all backgrounds”.

The mayor rebuffed comments made last week by Donald Trump, which accused London of having “opened the door to extremism”.

“He couldn’t be more wrong”, Mr Khan said, adding: “The truth is, through the results of this election Londoners have slammed the door shut on his brand of hard-right populism.

“Londoners have said no to racism, no to division and no to hate, and yes once again to diversity, unity and hope.”

The mayor acknowledged that “these are challenging times” with many “struggling desperately to make ends meet”.

Labour’s Sadiq Khan was re-elected mayor
Labour’s Sadiq Khan was re-elected mayor (Jeff Moore/PA)

“If you work hard and get a helping hand, you can achieve anything”, Mr Khan said of his “London promise”, but he told PA that too many Londoners were not receiving a sufficient helping hand.

“I’m hoping later on this year, after the general election, the British public vote in a Labour government and we can make a real difference,” he said.

When asked about the struggling nightlife sector, Mr Khan told PA that a perfect storm of Brexit, the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis had impacted hospitality.

“We are going to carry on supporting those businesses and frankly speaking what they need is a situation where the business rates aren’t going through the roof”, he said, adding: “I’m looking forward to a really vibrant summer, attracting tourists back to the city, and if Taylor Swift can’t do it, nobody can.”

Mr Khan plans to provide free skills training for unemployed or low-income Londoners and create more than 150,000 new jobs by 2028.