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Sadiq Khan 'set to be named London mayor'

Published 06/05/2016

London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith leaves with his wife Alice after casting his vote at Kitson Hall, Barnes
London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith leaves with his wife Alice after casting his vote at Kitson Hall, Barnes

Labour's Sadiq Khan is set to be named London mayor, breaking the Conservatives' eight-year hold on City Hall.

With the final votes still being counted, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn led congratulations from the party's MPs, as broadcasters calculated that the bus driver's son and human rights lawyer had built up a mathematically unassailable lead over Tory rival Zac Goldsmith.

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, offered her "felicitations" on Twitter, saying she was looking forward to strengthening co-operation between the two capitals on key issues like housing, pollution and culture.

The Tooting MP was the clear frontrunner from the start of the counting process, which saw details of first preference votes released as they were collated using an electronic system.

And Mr Corbyn did not wait for the official result to claim victory on Twitter, declaring: "Congratulations Sadiq Khan. Can't wait to work with you to create a London that is fair for all! #YesWeKhan."

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband offered Mr Khan his congratulations, telling him: "You will be an outstanding Mayor of London. Your positive vision and dignity beat a campaign of fear and division."

Meanwhile, one of the Conservatives' most senior Muslims conceded defeat with a bitter attack on a Goldsmith campaign which had been widely criticised for using "dog whistle" tactics to brand Khan a "radical".

Former cabinet minister Baroness Warsi said: "Our appalling dog whistle campaign for London Mayor 2016 lost us the election, our reputation and credibility on issues of race and religion."

Richmond Park MP Mr Goldsmith and Prime Minister David Cameron sought to link Mr Khan with Muslim "extremists" in the bitter race to succeed Boris Johnson.

Mr Cameron sparked Labour fury by twice using Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons as a launchpad for attacks on Mr Khan's appearance on platforms alongside individuals he branded extreme.

But the tactic backfired after imam Sulaiman Ghani, who Mr Cameron had claimed was a supporter of terror group IS, said that he was backing the Tories.

Speaking in Sheffield, Mr Corbyn told the Press Association: "This vile campaign run by the Tories, the way they've tried to smear Sadiq Khan, the methods they've used and the language they've used, has had a very big effect in exactly the way they didn't want.

"So many people are just revolted by what was said about Sadiq yesterday they came out and voted for us."

Senior Conservative politician Andrew Boff, a London Assembly member, also criticised Mr Goldsmith's mayoral campaign for trying to link Mr Khan to Islamist extremism.

He said the team was wrong to equate people of conservative religious views with extremists.

Speaking at the ExCeL centre in east London, where counting for the London mayoral elections was taking place, Mr Boff said: "I was supportive of the whole campaign apart from one element and that one was where it seemed to attribute radical tendencies to people of orthodox religious views.

"I think that is a complete misunderstanding of the patchwork of faiths there are in London, and has the potential to alienate people and say that people who do have orthodox religious views, conservative religious views, are for some reason not welcome and won't be listened to."

The Green Party's Sian Berry looks set to secure third place in the mayoral contest ahead of Caroline Pidgeon of the Liberal Democrats and Ukip's Peter Whittle.

Former MP and Respect candidate George Galloway was trailing Sophie Walker of the Women's Equality Party.

Outgoing mayor Mr Johnson thanked the capital for his eight years in office, despite being branded a "prick" by a cyclist on his last day as mayor.

Sending his final messages from the official London Mayor Twitter account, Mr Johnson said : "It's time to sign off from City Hall - it's been the most amazing privilege to be your mayor."

Mr Goldsmith's own sister criticised the campaign, claiming it "did not reflect who I know him to be".

Jemima Goldsmith said on Twitter: "Congratulations to @sadiqkhan-1st Muslim Mayor of London- a city for all cultures, backgrounds & religions. A great example to young Muslims.

"Sad that Zac's campaign did not reflect who I know him to be - an eco friendly, independent-minded politician with integrity."

Tory former minister Lord Barker of Battle, now chairman of the London Sustainable Development Commission, added his congratulations.

"Congratulations to the new mayor and let's hope he can deliver on his clean energy pledge," the Conservative peer said.

Final confirmation of Mr Khan's victory was delayed by several hours due to counting "discrepancies".

A London Elects spokeswoman said: "The returning officer is currently updating candidates and agents. There were some small discrepancies with regard to the mayoral figures and we have to take the time to check them.

"We're doing the checking in conjunction with the Electoral Commission.

"We have to take the time to resolve these issues. We are working towards a declaration at midnight. I apologise."

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