Ex-Labour Mayor defects to Tories claiming Khan isn't tough enough

Britain’s first hijab-wearing mayor who quit the Labour Party over claims of racism defects to the Tories because she says Sadiq Khan isn’t tough enough on fighting London crime

  • Rakhia Ismail was a ceremonial mayor in Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington constituency
  • But she quit Labour, claiming a need to ‘escape’ from local leader Richard Watts
  • Now she has thrown weight behind Conservative mayoral hopeful Shaun Bailey
  • Cllr Ismail accused the current mayor of not doing enough to tackle knife crime

Britain’s first hijab-wearing mayor, who quit the Labour Party over claims of racism, has defected to the Tories after accusing Sadiq Khan of not being tough enough on tackling knife crime in the capital.

London councillor Rakhia Ismail stepped down from her party in September where she was a ceremonial mayor in Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency of Islington.

At the time, she claimed she needed to ‘escape’ from the ‘oppression’ of local Labour council leader Richard Watts.

She has also alleged she was subjected to ‘discriminatory behaviour’ by some of her fellow councillors.

Cllr Ismail – who previously tried to become a Labour London Assembly member but claimed she hit a ‘glass ceiling’ – has now backed the Tory mayoral hopeful, Shaun Bailey.

In a shock campaign video released this week, Cllr Ismail sports the colours of a true blue Tory and announces she’s switched sides, alleging Mr Khan hasn’t done enough to tackle knife crime.

London councillor Rakhia Ismail stepped down from her party in September where she was a ceremonial mayor in Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency

The Islington councillor says: ‘I have been trying to work with Sadiq Khan for the best part of the last five years.

‘I have decided some time ago that there’s no point in talking with Sadiq, there is no point working with Sadiq.

‘I’m really lucky to be working with Shaun in a London-wide campaign on social mobility, on knife crime, giving people hope.

‘At the moment the Labour Party is all about hot air but no substance and that’s what I would like to change.

‘Sadiq Khan has failed us since 2016, it’s five years he has been the mayor of London and he hasn’t done a single thing for communities but is all about the bubble of Sadiq Khan.’

Councillor Ismail – who has been a Labour politician for more than a decade – added: ‘It’s going to be tough for me to actually cross the floor, but if that is what it takes to save a child in London then I will and that’s why I have joined the campaign of Shaun Bailey.’

Mr Bailey tweeted: ‘Most politicians toe the party line. But not @Rakhiaismail.

‘She spoke out about knife crime.

‘She spoke out about discrimination. 

In a shock campaign video released this week, Cllr Ismail sports the colours of a true blue Tory and announces she’s switched sides, alleging Mr Khan, pictured, hasn’t done enough to tackle knife crime

The councillor appears alongside Tory candidate Shaun Bailey, pictured together, in the video

‘And when Labour told her to stop, she quit.

‘Now she’s backing me – because together, we can make London’s streets safer.’

An Islington Labour Party spokesperson said: ‘This is incredibly disappointing news for the people of Holloway ward, who elected councillor Ismail as a Labour candidate, with a clear mandate to help make Islington a fairer place.

‘As a councillor Ismail has previously said herself, the Tory government has failed Isilngton on the issues that matter most, including tackling the root causes of knife crime and delivering desperately needed, genuinely affordable and council homes for local people.

‘The last thing our borough needs is a Tory councillor supporting Tory austerity.’

Councillor Ismail recently told HuffPost she is considering taking legal action against Labour after quitting the party due to alleged racism.

A London Labour source told the Islington Tribune: ‘We will not take any lessons on tackling knife crime from the Tory Mayoral candidate who oversaw huge cuts to the Met Police and youth services when he was the Downing Street Crime Adviser – and who is still refusing to ask his Tory mates in government to defund the Met Police for the cost of tackling Covid-19 which will mean more Tory austerity inflicted on our police.’

The mayor of London has been approached for comment.

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