Fri, 19 April 2024

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By Bishop of Leeds
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Sadiq Khan WILL address Labour conference following behind-the-scenes row

Agnes Chambre

2 min read

Sadiq Khan will make a major speech at next week's Labour conference, despite a bid by Jeremy Corbyn's office to keep him off the agenda.

The Labour leader's team had claimed that they wanted to leave more time for party members to speak from the conference stage, leading to claims the he was being snubbed for his previous criticisms of the leader.

Supporters of the London mayor insisted that in the wake of this year's terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire, he should be allowed to address delegates.

At their meeting on Tuesday, Labour's ruling National Executive Committee rejected calls for Mr Khan to be given a slot, insisting the agenda for next week's gathering should not be changed.

However, the Conference Arrangements Committee, which decides on the line-up for the event, overturned that decision yesterday.

A party insider told PoliticsHome: "It was felt that we needed to hear from people who have shown what Labour can deliver in power."

A source close to the mayor said: "Sadiq is happy either way. It's great if he can give a speech to Labour members - he'd better start writing one. But we don't want this to be a distraction from the big issues being addressed at conference."

However, it is understood that former Labour frontbencher Andy Burnham, who was elected mayor of Greater Manchester in May, has been kept off the conference agenda. Instead, Mr Khan will be joined by a female local government representative.

Before the change was announced, several Labour MPs spoke out about the importance of Mr Khan having a speaking slot.

Southwark MP Neil Coyle said: “Sadiq is a winner and is delivering a strong Labour agenda in London.

“He’s saved my constituents thousands on Tube and bus fares and is delivering infrastructure projects that’ll benefit millions.

“Given he won the highest political vote of any elected politician in the UK ever, there is simply no reason to keep him off the rostrum unless those setting the agenda don’t wish to be associated with success.”

Wes Streeting, MP for Ilforn North, said it would be a “terrible snub” if Mr Khan did not address delegates.

“Sadiq Khan is one of Labour’s best-known politicians and given everything that’s happened in London during the past year – and the crucial set of elections in the capital next year – it would be a terrible snub not to have him addressing our conference,” he said.

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said: "We're relaxed about it and are exploring the possibility of a rotating mayoral slot. The issue was never about personalities but giving delegates more time to debate."

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