Mayor’s ally faces backlash from Labour activists over support for Ulez extension

Onkar Sahota, left, with mayor Sadiq Khan at the launch of the first Superloop bus route (Sadiq Khan Twitter/X)
Onkar Sahota, left, with mayor Sadiq Khan at the launch of the first Superloop bus route (Sadiq Khan Twitter/X)

An ally of Sadiq Khan is at risk of losing his £60,000-a-year City Hall job because of his support for the Ulez expansion.

Onkar Sahota, a veteran member of the London Assembly, is facing a rebellion by some Labour activists opposed to last month’s widening of the ultra-low emission zone to the Greater London boundary.

Dr Sahota, who is also a GP in Hanwell and Southall, said he believed “history will show” that the mayor was right to expand the clean air zone – but said he would “reassess” his plans to stand for re-election next May if he believed he had lost the support of grassroots members in his west London constituency.

Dr Sahota, who has represented Ealing and Hillingdon on the assembly since 2012, told the Standard: “I believe I have conscientiously served my constituents. I have done something which I consciously believe in, and which I believe is in the interests of Londoners.

“I believe history will show it’s the right decision, and that I have done the best thing for the majority of my constituents.”

All 25 seats on the London Assembly are up for re-election next May, at the same time as the mayoral elections. Assembly members earn £60,416 a year and, like the mayor, normally serve a four-year term.

The rebellion is the latest controversy to hit Labour in west London. Party leader Sir Keir Starmer blamed the Ulez expansion for Labour’s failure to win the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election – the parliamentary seat previously held by Boris Johnson – in July.

Labour candidate Danny Beales came out against the Ulez expansion during the campaign – and later described it as “bad policy” and a “dead weight” to his hopes. Last year the Labour group on Hillingdon council came out against the Ulez expansion.

The decision whether to “trigger” a vote on Dr Sahota’s reselection, or allow him to stand unopposed for the assembly next May, will be made by the Labour constituency associations and by affiliated organisations such as trade unions.

However only five of the six constituency associations are able to take part as Ealing Southall association remains suspended after voting against sitting Labour MP Virendra Sharma in 2019.

It is understood that the Labour association in Hayes and Harlington has sent an email to members calling for the deselection of Dr Sahota.

Dr Sahota won his assembly seat in 2012 from Richard Barnes, at the time a deputy mayor to Boris Johnson. He retained the seat in 2021 with an 8,242 majority over the Conservatives. He is currently the Labour health spokesman on the assembly.