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Sadiq Khan's bid for London to opt out of Brexit unveiled before election

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Sadiq Khan has risen to a record-high chance of 97 percent to be re-elected as Mayor of London on May 6. The Conservatives’ Shaun Bailey looks almost certain to finish second, while Siân Berry of the Green Party and Luisa Porritt of the Liberal Democrats are battling for third place. Patrick Flynn, CEO of Smarkets Political Analyst, which conducted the projection, said: “The race to become London Mayor is so uncompetitive, with Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan up to an all-time high of 97 percent to be re-elected, that it seems almost hard to believe that the mayoralty was in Conservative hands between 2008 and 2016.

“Both Brexit and Labour’s dominance with the under-45s in the Corbyn era accelerated a shift towards Labour in London (a young, Remain-voting city), and that shift does not look likely to be reversed any time soon.”

In the buildup to the Brexit referendum, Mr Khan was a vocal supporter of the “Remain” camp.

He even agreed to attend a Britain Stronger in Europe campaign event with former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to demonstrate cross-party support for remaining within the EU, for which he was criticised by former Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who claimed that sharing a platform with the Conservatives “discredits us”.

Despite the Brexit vote, Mr Khan has remained open about his support for the EU.

In 2017, he called for London to be given special treatment after Brexit by being allowed to remain in the single market and customs union.

Mr Khan had seized on the implications of a leaked document, which suggested the UK had agreed to grant Northern Ireland special status within the UK to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

According to that document, the Government was prepared “in the absence of agreed solutions” to ensure “continued regulatory alignment” in Northern Ireland.

In response, Mr Khan said in a tweet that this presented “huge ramifications” for London’s relationship with the EU, too.

It later emerged that the deal, which did not explicitly mention keeping Northern Ireland in the single market and customs union, collapsed following opposition from the DUP.

London voted strongly in favour of remaining in the EU, with more than 70 percent rejecting Brexit in some boroughs.

Anti-Brexit campaigners responded with glee to Mr Khan’s proposal as it opened the door to some parts of the country enjoying ongoing benefits of EU membership.

However, others were quick to point out that Mr Khan’s plans would have thrown up customs posts between the British capital and the rest of the country.

Several joked that Britain could have seen a “hard border” erected on the M25 motorway, on the outskirts of London.

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Mr Khan was not the only politician to demand some form of special status after Brexit.

He was following the lead of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

She also wrote on Twitter: “If one part of the UK can retain regulatory alignment with the EU and effectively stay in the single market (which is the right solution for Northern Ireland) there is surely no good practical reason why others can’t.”

Last week, Mr Khan called for the Government to provide greater clarity for the City of London post-Brexit, with the Mayor telling Rishi Sunak to “address the concerns of London’s financial and professional services sector”.

Mr Khan wrote to the Chancellor to call for the Government to secure equivalence for the financial services sector.

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The UK Treasury is currently holding Memorandum of Understanding talks with the EU over future regulatory cooperation on financial services.

The Government does not expect the talks to lead to greater market access, but they instead will likely create channels for the UK and EU to discuss future regulatory decisions.

Mr Khan said: “The Government must work with the EU to secure a wider raft of agreements on regulatory equivalence to ensure a fair and level playing field.

“As well as continuing to attract talent from within the UK, it is essential that the Government’s immigration policy maintains and broadens the pool of international talent that industry can access.”



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