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Sadiq Khan demands to know Boris Johnson’s coronavirus ‘game plan’

Sadiq Khan today demanded to know Boris Johnson’s coronavirus ‘game plan’ as he slammed plans for an M25 lockdown. 

The London Mayor complained that he had been shut out of Cobra crisis meetings and snubbed by the PM since mid-May.

He voiced fury that there had been no discussion of contingency proposals to put the capital – or other major cities – in quarantine, effectively sealing them off.

Mr Khan has also risked the wrath of ministers by repeating his threat of £110million in police cuts unless the government offers London another massive bailout. 

Mr Johnson has ‘war gamed’ possible options as fears mount over a second peak in the disease. 

Measures considered include lockdown-like conditions for London, with the M25 acting as a barrier around the capital. 

Downing Street said the government’s ‘Contain’ strategy set out that restrictions can be imposed on transport links ‘if there is an area that is particularly badly affected’. The PM’s spokesman stressed any location could be subject to similar curbs.

Official figures show the worst-hit area of the capital is currently Hackney and the City of London, with 19.4 cases diagnosed for every 100,000 people between July 25 and 31. It is a lower rate than that of seven of ten boroughs in Greater Manchester, which was last week hit by tough new lockdown measures to control growing outbreaks.

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Khan said the first he heard of plans for a quarantine ring around the capital was when he read Sunday newspapers.

He said the plan, which suggests closing London down and sealing it off from the M25 inwards, had not been discussed with himself, the 32 council leaders or any other local leaders.

‘You have seen the chaos in Greater Manchester, in parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire and previously in parts of Leicester from confused communication from the Government,’ he said.

‘It is really important, and this is not a party political point, that the Conservative Government, the Labour mayor and all of us put aside party differences and work together for the greater good.’ 

Mr Khan said he had not spoken to Mr Johnson since May 10, and it was ‘not good enough’ to hold discussions with individual ministers who only know what is happening in their portfolio.

He said ‘the Prime Minister knows what is going on in all the departments and must be in charge of the detail’.

Mr Khan said he ‘desperately need to know what the game plan is’ should the number of infections increase.

He predicted there would be ‘more difficulty’ closing down geographical areas – such as if the virus was spreading between several boroughs – rather than shutting down an institution.

‘I think we would be ready to have a lockdown of institutions – so if we had, God forbid, an increase to do with a factory or at a school or an individual place of worship – we think we would have good plans with the councils to close buildings,’ he said.

‘We are served by four airports and the Eurostar, so if they (the Government) talked to me and talked to London leaders, we could explain some of the complexities and work through them.

‘None of this insurmountable. but let’s work together.’

In a letter to Tory mayoral rival Shaun Bailey yesterday, Mr Khan warned that London is facing ‘the perfect storm of increased costs incurred in responding to the crisis, combined with a huge reduction in our revenue’. 

‘As a result, unless the Government takes urgent action, further cuts of £110million will need to be made to policing in London at the worst possible time, just when there is a real risk of violent crime rising as lockdown is eased. Essential preventative services, like youth clubs and mental health support, are also at risk,’ he wrote.

But Mr Bailey shot back: ‘Sadiq Khan wants to take the politics out of policing. And he’s right.

‘The only problem is his track record. Sadiq Khan has played politics with the police from day one. And now he wants to defund the police, something I refuse to even discuss.

‘Instead of taking a symbolic and meaningless pay cut, the Mayor should cut waste from City Hall.’ 

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