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HomeLondon NewsBacklash over ULEZ support spells uncertainty for Sadiq Khan's ally

Backlash over ULEZ support spells uncertainty for Sadiq Khan’s ally

An ally of Sadiq Khan, facing a backlash over his support for the Ulez expansion, has lost a crucial series of votes – which could mean he loses his City Hall job.

Dr Onkar Sahota, a Labour member of the London Assembly representing Ealing and Hillingdon, is understood to have lost the backing of a number of his party’s local activists.

It is thought some of them are opposed to Mr Khan’s widening of the Ultra low emission zone to cover all of Greater London last month – a move championed by Dr Sahota, who is also a part-time GP.

He said last week that he believed “history will show” the mayor was right to expand the clean air zone, but he would “reassess” his plans to stand for re-election next May if he believed he had lost the support of grassroots members in his west London seat.

Labour associations in three of the six parliamentary constituencies in Dr Sahota’s seat have voted by majority for a ‘full selection’ process to take place, which would see him go up against other contenders to be the party’s candidate in 2024. They are Ealing Central and Acton, Ealing North, and Hayes and Harlington.

Of the three remaining local parties, two are understood to be suspended – Ealing Southall, and Uxbridge and South Ruislip. The other – Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner – is thought to have chosen not to hold a vote.

However, local parties only make up half of the ‘electoral college’ used to decide whether an Assembly Member (AM) is retained automatically as the party’s candidate.

The other half is made up of affiliate organisations, such as trade unions and socialist societies. At least one affiliate in Dr Sahota’s seat is understood to have voted for re-selection, meaning that the critical threshold of more than 50 per cent of the ‘electoral college’ has been crossed.

It is expected that the party’s London regional office will inform the AM next week that he will have to go up for re-selection, if he wishes to remain in the role.

Dr Sahota declined to comment at this stage in proceedings.

Ealing and Hillingdon is a relatively marginal Assembly seat. In 2021, Labour won 40.8 per cent of the vote, with the Conservatives close behind on 36.9 per cent.

Dr Sahota captured the seat in 2012 from Tory Richard Barnes, who was a deputy mayor during Boris Johnson’s time in City Hall.

The seat contains within it Mr Johnson’s former parliamentary seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, where a July by-election delivered a surprise victory for the Conservatives, despite Labour having an impressive national poll lead. Mr Khan’s Ulez expansion was widely blamed for Labour failing to gain the suburban seat.