‘Simply Not True’: Boris Johnson Blasted Over Boast He Left ‘Coffers F…

Sadiq Khan’s office has blasted Boris Johnson’s claim that he left Transport for London’s “coffers complete”, saying it is “simply not true”.

The chief minister alleged on Tuesday that when he was Mayor of London he left TfL with a “important sum of money”.

He went on to tell an official Downing Street press conference on coronavirus that he “left the coffers complete” when he stepped down in 2016.

However, Khan’s team hit back, saying it was “simply not true” and that the overwhelming majority of TfL’s borrowing was incurred under the past mayoralty.

They went on to say the only reason TfL is in a difficult financial position now is because of stay at home guidance during the pandemic.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “It is simply not true that the past Mayor ‘left the coffers complete’ at TfL.

“The overwhelming majority of TfL’s borrowing was incurred under the past mayoralty, throughout which TfL accumulated £7billion of debt – greatly more than in all other years of TfL’s existence combined – so most of the interest that TfL is currently paying results from borrowing when the current chief minister was Mayor of London.”

According to City Hall figures, most of TfL’s borrowing was incurred between 2008/09 and 2015/16, when TfL accrued around £7billion of debt.

Johnson’s predecessor Ken Livingstone borrowed £2billion over his mayoralty while Khan has borrowed over £2billion.

The Mayor’s spokesperson said that prior to the pandemic, Khan was on track to reach a net operating surplus.

But they said a decline in footfall caused by the pandemic “decimated” TfL’s income and while other aim operating companies got a “blank cheque” of emergency funding, TfL got only “piecemeal extensions” to their current funding deal or deals with “draconian conditions attached”.

chief Minister Boris Johnson and current Mayor of London Sadiq Khan take part in a vigil to remember London attack victims.

Both Downing Street and the Department for Transport were approached to comment.

A government source said they had “repeatedly shown” their commitment to supporting London’s transport network by the pandemic by providing more than £4billion in emergency funding.

They also said this year’s spending review settlement for the capital provided over a billion pounds of capital investment per year, in line with past funding: “At a time of meaningful pressure on national finances.”

It is the latest in a row between the government and the Mayor of London over funding for the capital’s transport service.

Last year the chief minister alleged in the House of Commons that Khan “effectively bankrupted” TfL before covid.

TfL has managed to obtain a last-minute extension on its latest bailout to keep Tube and bus sets running until February.

Khan has warned he is considering major cuts to sets, including the closure of an complete Tube line, in a bid to balance the books.

On Tuesday, the chief minister was asked: “As a former Mayor of London will you push for a long-term sustainable funding deal for Transport for London to help the city to retrieve?”

He replied: “Never forget that it was left with a very important sum of money by the past mayor who left the coffers complete and not least Crossrail and everything else.

Johnson’s predecessor Ken Livingstone [pictured] borrowed £2billion over his mayoralty while Khan borrowed over £2billion.

Carl Court – PA Images via Getty Images

“However, we are where we are and it is vital that our great capital city has got to be able to move around.

“Of course, ridership has been down because of the pandemic. But I know you and I and the current mayor devoutly hope that ridership will come back and one day we’ll come back without masks on, we hope, and our capital city will be buzzing again.

“So it’s vital that London is properly provided for but what it also requires is a mayor who’s going to institute a sensible and pragmatic fares policy and not the retrograde one that we saw the early stage of the current mayor’s term. So that’s what we’re looking to unprotected to.”

TfL and Downing Street declined to comment.

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