Tory row over Khans hated ULEZ plans with ministers urged to overrule them

High Court ruling allows Sadiq Khan to roll out ULEZ expansion

A senior Government source has told that some ministers believe Transport Secretary Mark Harper could use reserved powers to stop Sadiq Khan’s hated ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) to outer London.

The view is confirmation that there are splits within the Conservative Government over how to tackle Mr Khan’s plans to start charging hundreds of thousands of drivers £12.50 a day from August 29.

But the problem within Government is understood to be Department for Transport officials who are strongly advising Mr Harper against trying to step in over Mr Khan’s new tax on drivers in outer London.

The briefing has come after revealed the legal basis for the Tory Transport Secretary to stop Mr Khan’s plans.

Mr Harper, however, has continued to insist there is nothing he can do because the issue is devolved to the Labour London Mayor.

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One senior Government source told “The legal advice is that it’s not clear cut. It depends on how you treat the environmental aspect.

“I’d think they could step in but Department for Transport think otherwise.”

The source made it clear that some ministers believe Mr Harper should intervene and test the law in court if Mr Khan challenges it.

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay has quoted the 1999 legislation which created the position of an elected London Mayor and gave the scope of its powers and when ministers could overrule in the national interest.

He and around 40 Tory MPs have made it clear they believe Mr Harper can intervene too.

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The Greater London Authority Act 1999 allowed interventions including when the Secretary of State considers that “a. the transport strategy (or any part of it) is inconsistent with national policies relating to transport, and, b. the inconsistency is detrimental to any area outside Greater London, he may direct the Mayor to make such revisions of the transport strategy in order to remove the inconsistency as may be specified in the direction”.

The Bill adds: “Where the Secretary of State gives the Mayor a direction under subsection (1) above, the Mayor shall revise the transport strategy in accordance with the direction.”

Mr Mackinlay said: “In my view, given the importance of London to the national economy and transport, the Secretary of State should exercise powers to stop the anti-motorist crusade being pushed by this failed Mayor which will hurt the poorest hardest and which additionally has economic repercussions across the South East and the wider country.”

But a source close to Mr Harper has insisted that “the legal advice he has received” says he cannot intervene.

The pressure on the issue has mounted after a legal challenge by five Conservative-led councils against the Mayor’s expansion of ULEZ was dismissed last week.

It means petrol vehicles older than 2005 and diesel vehicles older than 2015 will be hit with daily charges of £12.50 per day up to around £4,500 a year.

Mr Khan is pressing ahead with the scheme despite a public consultation coming out against the expansion and Labour blaming his proposals for their defeat in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election last month.

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