ir Keir Starmer told Sadiq Khan on Friday to “reflect” on the expansion of Ulez to Outer London after it was blamed for handing the Tories a by-election victory in Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
The Labour leader’s blunt intervention threw the extension of the scheme to the capital’s suburbs into doubt.
After the Conservatives held onto Boris Johnson’s former constituency by less than 500 votes, Sir Keir said: “We didn’t take it in 1997 when we had a landslide Labour victory. And Ulez was the reason we didn’t win there yesterday.
“We know that. We heard that on the doors. And we’ve all got to reflect on that, including the mayor.”
He pressed home the point, adding: “We’ve got to look at the result. The mayor needs to reflect. And it’s too early to say what should happen next.”
The London Mayor said he was ready to listen to Londoners in the aftermath of the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election, after the Conservatives clung on to the seat by a couple of hundred votes by tapping in to anger over the scheme.
But on Friday he was still sticking to his plans despite the backlash which saw Tory Steve Tuckwell beat Labour’s Danny Beales by just 495 votes.
However the Tories lost in Somerton and Frome in Somerset, with the Liberal Democrats overturning a massive majority.
Labour also stormed to victory in Selby and Ainsty in North Yorkshire, with Keir Mather beating the Conservatives by more than 4,100 votes.
Mr Tuckwell said his victory was down to London Mayor Mr Khan’s “damaging and costly” Ultra Low Emission Zone expansion to the Greater London boundary.
“The message from Uxbridge and South Ruislip is clear – Sadiq Khan has lost Labour this election, and it was his damaging and costly Ulez policy that did it,” he said.
Labour Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner also blamed Ulez for the failure to snatch the seat.
She told BBC Breakfast: “I think one of the things we have to reflect on today is not only the mood against the Tories, but also the decision in Uxbridge was related to Ulez.
“The Uxbridge result shows that when you don’t listen to the voters, you don’t win elections.”
But later on Friday, Mr Khan vowed to press ahead with his expansion of Ulez on August 29.
The mayor said he was “disappointed” by the result but that extending the clean air zone London-wide continued to be “really important”.
“We know every day that there are people dying prematurely,” said Mr Khan.
“There are children with stunted lungs because of air pollution, adults with a whole load of health issues.
“So we’re going to carry on doing what we can to support Londoners [with the expansion].
“But the reality is that actually 95 per cent of Londoners who drive a car in inner London have a compliant vehicle. In outer London, it’s around 90 per cent.
“Clearly, we need to make sure that more Londoners with non-compliant vehicles have the support they need.”
He said he would “carry on listening” to Londoners about the expansion.
Tory peer and pollster Lord Hayward stressed that the Uxbridge result had political implications beyond London.
He said that the swings in Selby and Somerton were “absolutely massive” but it was a “good/relieved result for the Tory Party in Uxbridge”.
He added: “One thing about Uxbridge which is interesting, is one thinks about it as Ulez and a London issue.
“But the Tories did less badly in local elections in May in places like Dartford and Thurrock.
“Ulez has implications for a string of marginals on the eastern side of London, Stevenage, Thurrock, Harlow, Dartford, Gravesend, so the Labour Party will be looking very carefully at the implications not only in Greater London but outside.”
Shortly before midday, David Williams, the leader of the local Labour party in Uxbridge announced he had quit, praising Jeremy Corbyn, which will be seen as a swipe at Sir Keir Starmer.
He tweeted: “ I have resigned as chair of Uxbridge and South Ruislip CLP.
“I am also resigning my membership of the Labour Party. Politics needs to have principles or we end up with people like Boris Johnson and Liz Truss running the country, Jeremy Corbyn gave a huge boost to the Labour Party.”
Just before 2am a recount had been called by the Labour party in Uxbridge as Mr Beales had narrowly failed to overturn the more than 7,000 majority the former prime minister won in 2019.
Turnout in the high profile seat was 46.23 per cent.
Selby and Ainsty
In Selby and Ainsty, new Labour MP Keir Mather joked he had “heard far worse” when asked how he felt about becoming “the Baby of the House”.
The 25-year-old will become the youngest MP in the Commons after overturning a 20,137 majority in the North Yorkshire constituency.
In a speech after he was declared the winner of the by-election, Mr Mather said he “understood the enormity of what has just happened”.
“We have rewritten the rules on where Labour can win. People have opened their doors to us and embraced our positive vision for the future,” he said.
“The people of Selby & Ainsty have sent a clear message. For too long, Conservatives up here and in Westminster have failed us, and today that changes.”
Mr Mather said his first priority would be setting up financial support centres in the constituency, for people to get expert help with issues including mortgage payments and energy bills.
After Mr Mather’s speech, defeated Conservative candidate Claire Holmes left the venue without talking to reporters.
Labour have said Mr Mather was born in Hull and grew up near Selby, before going to Oxford University.
The party said he has most recently worked as a senior public affairs adviser for the Confederation of British Industry and was formerly a parliamentary researcher for Wes Streeting from 2019 to 2020.
His candidacy was supported by the GMB and Unison unions.
Somerton and Frome
In Somerset the Liberal Democrats declared victory before counting had barely begun.
Sarah Dyke secured a double-digit swing and overturned a massive 19,000 majority.
Leader Ed Davey said: “This stunning victory shows the Liberal Democrats are firmly back in the West Country.
“Sarah Dyke will be an incredible local champion for the people of Somerset who have been neglected for far too long. She will fight for stronger local health services, better access to GPs and a fair deal for rural communities during this cost of living crisis.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told colleagues on Wednesday night that his party faced a “tough battle” to hold on to the seats and some pollsters have suggested the Tories could lose all three.
Labour hoped to bag Uxbridge and South Ruislip as well as Selby and Ainsty – vacated by Mr Johnson’s ally Nigel Adams’ resignation.
The Liberal Democrats were eyeing victory in the contest in Somerton and Frome that was triggered by David Warburton quitting following allegations of drug use and sexual harassment.
In a Cabinet meeting earlier this week party chairman Greg Hands briefed senior MPs that they should brace for losses.
Number 10 then published an unredacted photo of his notes on social media with warnings of a “challenging night” scrawled in red ink.
The North Yorkshire constituency of Selby and Ainsty was created at the 2010 general election and has always been held by the Conservatives. Its former MP Nigel Adams won just over 60 per cent of the vote in 2019.
Meanwhile Somerton & Frome has a long history of being a two-horse race between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. Tory David Warburton took nearly 56 per cent of the vote in 2019.