Donald Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom was like a hurricane. Both the media and Her Majesty’s Government were buffeted about and are now left struggling to recover. Among those hit was Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, who was challenged over his record on crime.
President Trump told The Sun:
“I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad.
“I look at cities in Europe, and I can be specific if you’d like. You have a mayor who has done a terrible job in London. He has done a terrible job. Take a look at the terrorism that is taking place. Look at what is going on in London. I think he has done a very bad job on terrorism.
“I think he has done a bad job on crime, if you look, all of the horrible things going on there, with all of the crime that is being brought in.”
The President’s son Eric pressed home the attack:
“That balloon, letting it fly over the city, what does it do for relations between the two countries? Who can tell me that isn’t a foolish thing to let happen?
“The US and UK are probably the strongest allies in the history of the world. To allow a leader to be disrespected like that, by a mayor of all people, is just not very smart.”
“He should spend more time on his own city than trying to jeopardise international relations with stunts.
“Look at the crime rates there – they have gone through the roof. What he’s done is very sad and very foolish.
Eric also denied that his father was anti-immigration:
“My grandparents came in legally. Do you know who else was an immigrant? My mum. What did she do? She came in legally. He is just against people showing up at our southern border jumping over a fence and doing it illegally.”
Some of this attack on Khan is unfair. The Home Office rather than the Mayor of London is responsible for immigration – including security checks on those who might be a terrorist risk.
Regarding the balloon, the Mayor’s justification was that it was a matter of “freedom of expression”. Fair enough – especially as the balloon did not “fly over the City” but was such a modest effort that it is a puzzle why it needed special permission anyway. But the Mayor is less keen on “freedom of expression” when a contrary view to his is being expressed. Thus he has banned advertisements on the tube of women in bikinis.
But the important point is that Khan has indeed been failing over crime. In the Sunday Telegraph yesterday, Shaun Bailey, a member of the London Assembly, wrote:
“Over the past year, London has witnessed 82 murders and an increase of 21 per cent in the number of recorded knife-crime offences. The youngest knife crime victim was just 13 years-old.
“In the capital, 250 knives and swords were seized by the police in just one week. But it is not just knife crime that is a problem. Acid attacks have increased by 78 per cent over the past two years, and moped-enabled crime has risen by 412 per cent since Sadiq Khan became the city’s mayor.”
Bailey adds that “the Mayor lacks a grip on the situation and has few ideas on how to stop the cycle of violence”. He also says that Khan “clearly needs to show greater leadership with the police and do more to support community projects. The police desperately need real direction from City Hall in their fight against gang and organised crime”.
So far the Mayor has passed the buck over rising crime. He doesn’t feel under any great political pressure as London has been going Labour’s way. Furthermore, there is little effort from Khan to disguise his delight at being criticised by Trump. The Mayor feels it to be a badge of honour to have riled a figure so demonised by the Left.
But could such complacency prove the Mayor’s undoing? By 2020 when the next election takes place, it will not be enough for Khan to revel in Trump’s disapproval. The President has helped to publicise a concern that is serious, worsening, and of great concern to many Londoners. If the Mayor is still unable to meet the challenge then he may well find himself out of a job.