Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been accused of not “doing his job” during an ill-tempered meeting at City Hall.
Conservative Greater London Assembly member Andrew Boff appeared to get increasingly frustrated over what he perceived to be Mr Khan’s “useless” answers to his questions on protests.
Mr Boff had asked the Mayor to write to Home Secretary Amber Rudd seeking clarification over what constitutes a banned organisation after Hezbollah flags was spotted during an Al Quds Day march in the capital earlier this month.
The terse exchange culminated in Mr Khan sarcastically accusing the Tory member of reading a “pre-written rant”.
Seeking an answer from the mayor, Mr Boff said: “You seem to be avoiding saying: ‘Yes I’ll do that.’
“Will you write to the Home Secretary and say we need to clarify what is a banned and not-banned organisation in order to assist the police in such demonstrations in the future?
“Will you do that? Don’t ask me what I’m doing, I’m asking you what you’re doing. Will you do that?”
Mr Khan said he was “really happy to read all the letters” Mr Boff had sent to the Home Secretary on the issue and “consider whether there is evidence to make the submissions you want me to make”.
Mr Boff called on the mayor to “look after the interests of the Jewish population of London” in seeking answers from the Government, to which Mr Khan replied: “I’ve been in close contact with the Met Police Commissioner and one of the best ways to protect vulnerable Jewish Londoners is to get more resources for the police service, that’s what I intend to do. And if you want to join me on that then it makes my life a lot easier.”
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The Tory member replied: “I’ll join you when you start doing your job, Mr Mayor.
“Thank you very much for those answers, I’m sure Londoners will be fascinated with your lack of willingness to address this problem.”
Mr Khan hit back with: “I congratulate you on that pre-written rant from you, it’s appreciated.”
Thrusting sheets of paper at the mayor, Mr Boff said: “You show me your briefing, I’ll show you mine. Alright? You have a deal on that.”
Mr Boff could be heard apparently venting his frustration with colleagues, saying he felt he was “not getting any more out of him (Mr Khan)”, and saying the response was the most “useless answer that I’ve ever seen in this assembly”.
Mr Khan, who had earlier implored Mr Boff to “just calm down”, replied: “Sorry, did you say something? He was just mocking me, was he?”
Jennette Arnold, who was chairing the internet-streamed Mayor’s Question Time debate, then cut in to move on to other matters.
Following the confrontation, Jennifer Gerber, Director of Labour Friends of Israel, hit back at criticism of the London Mayor. She said: “Tory attacks on Sadiq Khan for Hezbollah flags flying on the streets of London are totally unjustified and naked blame-shifting. The Mayor and the Met are hobbled by fact that, seven years after it came to office, the government has still not proscribed Hezbollah’s political wing. The responsibility for this failure rests solely with the Home Secretary and her predecessor, Theresa May.”