The Met Police is “under-resourced and over-stretched” and needs more police officers to deal with knife crime, Sadiq Khan has warned Boris Johnson.
The Mayor of London said that the police needed to recruit officers “much, much quicker” than Mr Johnson’s pledge of 20,000 over three years, having lost 21,000 under consecutive Conservative governments.
Mr Khan argued that London’s police force were using their stop and search powers in the way Mr Johnson favours, but that there were too few officers left and that the “preventative side” such as youth clubs have been slashed under austerity, fuelling the rise in knife crime.
Speaking at the Edinburgh Fringe during an interview appearance with broadcaster Iain Dale, Mr Khan was questioned whether the Metropolitan Police “have London under control”, to which he stressed that London needed more support from the Government.
Mr Khan said: “We’ve got fewer police officers now than any time since 2003, while the population has risen by two million.
“Are the police worried about the lack of numbers? The answer is yes.
“Our police work so hard. They are under-resourced and over-stretched.
“We need more officers and so I’m using City Hall money – council tax and business rates – to recruit more, but we need central government to give us more support to reverse the cuts made.
“In the eight years before I became mayor, Boris Johnson never raised council tax to pay for police. In my first three years I’ve raised council tax the maximum I’m allowed to do by law to divert it to the police.
“Our police is funded by roughly 80% by central government and 20% by other sources. It’s now gone down to 70% from central because I’ve raised other sources, but I can’t fill the massive hole left by £1 billion of cuts.”
Mr Khan also revealed that he had written to Mr Johnson after the former Mayor was elected by Conservative Party members, but that he had not yet spoken to him since he took office.
Asked about his views on Mr Johnson’s first two weeks in office, Mr Khan branded the new Prime Minister a “liar” who has filled his cabinet with ministers who have “seriously obnoxious views”.
“I’m 48 years old and I can’t remember a more right-wing government in my lifetime.
“There are people in his cabinet that have got seriously obnoxious views about a whole host of issues,” he said, citing those with opposition to abortion, LGBT-plus equality and teaching for children.
He continued: “I worry about the catastrophic consequences of a no-deal Brexit.
“The problem with all of us who are critical of Boris Johnson is that we get bought in by the buffoon trick and the problem is the consequences are going to be catastrophic if we leave the European Union without any deal.”
US President Donald Trump was accused of being “obsessed” about the London Mayor, with Mr Khan joking: “I have no idea what Donald Trump has against the Muslim Mayor of London.”
He described the president as “the poster boy for the far-right, racist movement around around the world,” and added: “My worry is we don’t realise some of the things he has said and done because of normalisation,” pointing to Mr Trump’s racist comments about Mexicans, the proposed Muslim travel ban, as well as the ban on transgender people serving in the American armed forces.
Mr Khan said: “We’ve all got to be vigilant to the fact that you’ve got the President of the USA who has views that are paraded by terrorists in Christchurch, by terrorists in El Paso, by terrorists in this country and by terrorists all over the world.
“That should worry us.”
Reacting to Mr Trump’s Twitter criticisms about him, and whether he baits him, Mr Khan said: “I challenge you to find any tweet that I’ve done proactively saying anything about Trump.
“In fact, the man’s obsessed with me – I’m seriously worried.
“I’m the Mayor of London, I’m quite busy and haven’t got the time to check my Twitter, let alone take the time to respond.
“This guy is President of the USA and if you get the chance, count how many times he’s tweeted about me.”
Questioned about John McDonnell’s comments on not blocking another Scottish Independence referendum, made at the Edinburgh Fringe event on Tuesday, Mr Khan said: “I’m a unionist, I believe in the nation state.
“At a time of increased challenges around the world, the antidote to Brexit isn’t Scottish independence.
“My view is that we work together to grapple with the challenges of Brexit – that means by September 3, hopefully tabling a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s government and the SNP working with the Labour Party and others to win that vote of no confidence.”