EXCLUSIVE: Sadiq Khan on populism and Trump – after far-right try to take over speech

"What I'm not in favour of is a state visit happening so soon, with the red carpet being rolled out and all the other things that come with it."

In an exclusive interview with Left Foot Forward, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has responded to a far-right group attempting to take over his speech at today’s Fabian New Year Conference.

LFF: ‘How do you respond to the attempt by far-right protesters to take over your speech?’

Sadiq Khan: “I just think the reality we’ve seen around the world – [with] the increase in nationalist and populist movements – my worry is we keep going backwards rather than forwards.

“We must not assume we’re always going forwards – and those of us who are progressives must stand up for our values but also recognise there are coalitions to be made. That’s why men have to be allies of women when it comes to gender inequality.”

LFF: ‘On the cancellation of Trump’s visit, do you think that was a response to potential protests? You must be pleased?’

Sadiq Khan: “As someone who’s a south Londoner I take his comments about Nine Elms [the site of the new embassy] very seriously!

“It’s for him to decide whether he wants to visit or not. I’ve always said the US is a country we’ve got a special relationship with.

“Many of us love America, and we’ve got to work closely with them on a whole host of issues from climate change to security, trade and other issues.

“What I’m not in favour of is a state visit happening so soon, with the red carpet being rolled out and all the other things that come with it. And that’s what I was against.

“What’s important is that our Prime Minister said to the President ‘of course we stand shoulder to shoulder with you in times of adversity, but you shouldn’t be re-tweeting far right groups, and of course you shouldn’t be amplifying messages of hate. That’s what’s disappointing about the situation.

“The thing about our relationship with the US is that it’s like having a close mate – you stand shoulder to shoulder in times of adversity but call them out when they’re wrong.”

Pro-Trump protesters calling themselves ‘White Pendragon’ were removed from the conference after trying to stop the conference going forward. You can see it here:

Listen to the interview here.

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.

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