Sadiq Khan’s popularity languishing in outer London a week before Ulez expansion

Sadiq Khan’s popularity languishing in outer London a week before Ulez expansion

Sadiq Khan is languishing on a rating of minus 24 in populous suburban boroughs, according to a poll which comes as he prepares to roll out Ulez across Greater London.

The YouGov survey of 1,000 Londoners found that across the capital as a whole, the Labour Mayor is viewed unfavourably by 52 per cent and favourably by 40 per cent — giving a net favourability rating of minus 12 overall.

Mr Khan is significantly more popular in Labour-leaning inner London — 13 boroughs plus the City — where the ultra low emission zone has been in operation since 2019. There, he enjoys a net favourability rating of plus five.

But in the 19 outer boroughs, his net rating plunges to minus 24. Car use is much greater there, and many more drivers are set to be affected when the Ulez expands beyond the North and South Circular roads.

The findings, shared exclusively with the Evening Standard, come just a week before the expansion goes live.

The outer boroughs comprise 60 per cent of Greater London’s 8.8 million population. As of last December, they had 3.7 million registered voters compared with 2.3 million in inner city.

Mr Khan defeated a High Court challenge from four of the outer boroughs along with Surrey County Council to the expansion of Ulez. The scheme remains divisive with vandals targeting hundreds of cameras.

The Mayor insists that it is needed to clean up toxic air and protect the health of five million more Londoners across the wider zone and is stepping up financial support for drivers to scrap non-compliant vehicles.

However, YouGov also said that Mr Khan’s Tory rival Susan Hall remains an “unknown figure” to most Londoners ahead of next May’s mayoral election.

The London Assembly member, who was chosen last month as the Conservative candidate, is bidding to exploit anti-Ulez sentiment among suburban voters after the party surprisingly held onto Boris Johnson’s old constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip in a by-election.

Ms Hall scores better across London with a net margin of plus one (22 per cent favourable, against 21 per cent unfavourable). She is minus six in inner London and plus four in the suburban boroughs.

But 57 per cent in the YouGov poll also said they “don’t know” about the Tory candidate, against only nine per cent for Mr Khan, suggesting he has a much stronger name recognition. “Susan Hall remains an unknown figure to most Londoners, with 57 per cent not having an opinion of her,” YouGov senior political researcher Lukas Paleckis told the Evening Standard. “It goes without saying that the Conservatives will have to pull something big out of the bag to overturn this sentiment in the capital, but with Ulez expansion causing a stir this may leave room for public opinion to change in their favour,” he said.

The findings tally with previous polling and the results of the Covid-delayed 2021 election, which showed Mr Khan lagging in some of the outer boroughs.

Croydon and Harrow flipped to the Conservatives in last year’s local elections, joining Hillingdon, Bromley and Bexley under Tory control. Labour won control of Barnet council for the first time, where local Tory MPs Theresa Villiers, Matthew Offord and Mike Freer have been campaigning against the Ulez expansion. In April, YouGov found that significantly more outer London than inner voters felt that the Mayor was doing badly in the job (55 per cent to 41). The gap has been widening since 2021.

Non-compliant vehicles that enter the expanded Ulez zone will be charged a £12.50 daily fee. However, the county councils of Surrey, Kent and Hertfordshire are all refusing to allow Transport for London to erect signs warning drivers that they are approaching the new area. Mr Khan is concerned that some drivers may stray into it by mistake, and is urging those councils to rethink.

Nationally, according to YouGov, both Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer are viewed unfavourably by most voters. But the Prime Minister’s net favourability among Londoners was much worse at minus 38, compared with minus four for the Labour leader, who has effectively disowned the enlarged Ulez. The figures point to Labour strength in the capital for the next general election.