Youve just done it again Sadiq Khan grilled over claims he broke electoral law

Crossrail: Sadiq Khan grilled over Grant Shapps' election claims

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has accused Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan of breaking pre-election rules over the announcement of when the Elizabeth line will open. The Cabinet minister claimed Mr Khan had displayed “breathtaking political cynicism”. Transport for London (TfL) – which is chaired by Mr Khan – revealed on Wednesday that the capital’s new east-west railway will launch on May 24. The announcement was made a day before local elections take place in London.

Speaking to TalkTV, Mr Khan said: “I didn’t decide to announce the fantastic news of the Elizabeth Line opening in 20 days. A transport commissioner, a civil servant…”

The presenter interjected: “Who works for you.

“I got the announcement from your press officer on my WhatsApp this morning.”

Mr Khan continued: “After TfL had announced and that’s really important.

“Of course I want to celebrate, this will improve transport links, make sure we’ve increased capacity by more than 10 percent, more step free stations, brand new trains.

“It will boost economic prosperity by £42billion across the country so of course as the mayor I want to amplify the great news.”

Mr Newton-Dunn added: “The law however is that you can’t make policy announcements during the election campaign.

“You’ve just done it again, you talked to me about it.”

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Purdah rules restrict what communications activity can take place in the run-up to an election.

Mr Shapps said: “This announcement is an act of breathtaking political cynicism by the mayor, breaking election rules on such announcements in an effort to garner votes the day before the local elections in London.

“I am therefore immediately referring this breach to the Electoral Commission for investigation.

“Londoners reading this unscrupulous headline grab might like to know that the Government has poured billions into Crossrail to solve delays clocked up on the mayor’s watch, while propping up a transport system hobbled financially by his chronic incompetence.”

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Around 30 minutes after issuing the statement, Mr Shapps posted a message on Twitter stating the Elizabeth line will open “thanks to £9bn of Government support”.

He added that it will “transform the lives of Londoners for generations to come and deliver a £42 billion boost to the whole UK economy”.

The total cost of Crossrail – the project to build the railway – has been estimated at £18.9 billion.

Crossrail Ltd says this includes £5.1 billion from the Government.

The Government has also provided nearly £5 billion to TfL to keep services running during the coronavirus pandemic.

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