Harlem shuffle: Sadiq Khan surprises New Yorkers by ditching limousine and walking to meetings

Englishman in New York: Sadiq Khan has been walking around Big Apple (Getty Images for Concordia Summi)
Englishman in New York: Sadiq Khan has been walking around Big Apple (Getty Images for Concordia Summi)

Sadiq Khan has sparked surprise during his four-day trip to New York by walking between meetings.

During an interview on ABC TV’s Good Morning America, Mr Khan was asked to confirm that he had taken to two feet in an apparent bid to avoid getting stuck in traffic – and despite the bad weather.

He was asked by apparently gobsmacked co-host Eva Pilgrim: “I have to ask you… You are walking around New York City, to not have to get stuck in the traffic? It’s raining outside today. How is that going for you?”

Ms Pilgrim and co-host DeMarco Morgan appeared amazed that a politician would walk – and at a time when New York was hit by rainstorms.

Mr Khan joked that it was boosting his step count. “I have done 4,600 steps so far,” he said.

“We are walking across New York wherever we can. That is one of the great things about cities like New York and London and Paris, we are trying to encourage people to get out of their cars, to walk or cycle or use public transport.”

To laughter from the show’s presenters, Mr Khan added: “There is a great Scandinavian saying: no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. I’ve got an umbrella.”

The London mayor arrived in New York on Sunday for a four-day visit, during which he will address the United Nations climate conference on Wednesday and, in his role as chair of the C40 group of cities committed to tackling climate change, possibly speak at the UN general assembly.

He is due to attend an Earthshot Prize event alongside Prince William later on Tuesday.

Mr Khan, to his frustration, is not always able to walk in London due to security concerns, at which time he is driven in an armed Metropolitan police vehicle for his own protection. He takes the Tube when possible.

Speaking by phone to the Evening Standard, Mr Khan accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of “going AWOL” by failing to attend the United Nations summit of world leaders. The UK is being represented by Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden.

Mr Khan said: “It beggars belief that in this gathering of world leaders, world businesses, leaders from civic society, our Prime Minister is AWOL. The problem is that it reflects badly on our country.

“It gives the impression that we aren’t a world leader. We are a nation that has a permanent seat on the UN security council, we have been seen for decades as leading the way on a whole host of issues, and we are not on the pitch.

“It is disappointing. It won’t go unnoticed that the Prime Minister of a great country like the UK has decided for reasons best known to himself to be a no-show.”

Mr Khan also criticised Mr Sunak for an apparent lack of support for the HS2 high-speed rail link, amid reports that it may not terminate at Euston or go north of Birmingham.

Mr Khan said that if he had shown a similar lack of commitment during the construction of Crossrail, which was plagued by years of delays and soaring costs, then the Elizabeth line would never have opened.

He said: “What you are seeing with the debacle around HS2 is a weak Prime Minister who is ineffective at leading our country and taking on his backbenchers.

“What he should be doing is saying HS2 is really important – to have a station at Euston, to have HS2 going north from Birmingham, and fulfilling the purpose of HS2.

“What he should be doing is removing the uncertainty and saying the line won’t end at Old Oak Common and will go all the way to Euston… the economic dividend is massive.”