London is back to its booming pre-Brexit and pre-Covid levels, the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan has said.
The UK capital is soaring ahead on the tourism and transport fronts, he said, even before the busy summer season.
“I think we’re back,” Mr Khan told the Financial Times. “If you look at public transport numbers at weekends, tourism and leisure is back.”
With a population of nine million, London was one of the world’s most visited cities before being brought to a standstill by the coronavirus outbreak.
Like others cities across Britain and beyond, London’s economy took a battering from the shutdown.
Since being elected as London’s first Muslim mayor in 2016, Mr Khan has clashed with Tory politicians over policies affecting the capital.
During the pandemic, he secured several bailouts worth hundreds of millions of pounds to keep the Transport for London (TfL) network afloat.
Conservative MPs and the then-prime minister Boris Johnson accused the mayor of mismanaging money.
Mr Khan said the city had been subjected to an attitude of ill will by successive Conservative government.
But he expressed hope that his dealings with No 10 Downing Street would improve if Labour wins power at the next general election.
The party, led by Keir Starmer, is soaring ahead of the Tories in the latest polls.
Mr Khan is expected to run — and win — a third term as London mayor in 2024. “This anti-London animus isn’t going to go away overnight with a change of government,” he said. “[But] the potential of working with a Labour government that’s pro-London is so incredibly exciting.”
Mr Khan campaigned against Brexit and since the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016 he has stuck to his position.
He has argued that the drop in immigration from European countries has caused businesses, particularly hotels and restaurants, across London to suffer.
He has urged the government to launch a new scheme for EU citizens to obtain London-only worker visas to help companies fill vacancies.
“Businesses in London complain of two big things: a skills shortage and a labour shortage,” he said. “Some restaurants are doing no lunch sittings because they’ve not got the staff.”