Ex-Conservative cabinet member Rory Stewart standing as independent in mayoral election

Rory Stewart has accused London mayor Sadiq Khan and his predecessors of living in ‘La La Land’ on housing delivery after failing to meet their own targets for virtually the whole of the last two decades.

The former international development secretary of state, who is challenging Khan as an independent candidate to become mayor, told London First’s annual housing conference that Greater London Authority’s housing targets have been missed in 19 of the 20 years since it was established in 2000.

rory stewart index

Source: Shutterstock

Citing figures from a document prepared by planning consultancy Barton Willmore, he said: “Every mayor has set targets that they have not met. The delivery on houses has been so far below the targets set in the London plan that we should start to recognise that we are living in La La Land. Someone needs to get serious about the gap between rhetoric and practical delivery on the ground.”

The former Conservative minister (pictured), who stepped down as an MP at the last general election, told Housing Today: “The point is not what I would like to see the question is what you can deliver. We need to come up with something that is tested, it’s true of all businesses that you need to have a target that is ambitious and stretching but credible.

“If you miss your target by that amount for every year except one of 19 years, you have to wonder what the purpose of these targets is.

“There are no easy answers but you need to grip the detail and work backwards and map what on earth is going on. This is about less policy and more action.”

But Stewart said that as an independent mayor, he would not be subject to party political pressures in the same way that his Labour and Conservative counterparts would be.

As an example, he said planning decisions by Tory councils would often be reversed by Khan, who would in turn be over-ruled by the Conservative secretary of state.

“As an independent, I don’t get drawn into crazy politics. I don’t have to worry when dealing with central government whether I am giving credit to the Conservative government or not.”

Stewart, who stepped down from Parliament after having the Tory whip removed after refusing to back the government on ‘no deal’ Brexit, also said he would introduce a scrappage schemes for domestic boilers in order to cut harmful emissions.

And Stewart, who represented Penrith in rural Cumbria until the general election, said that London must recognise the legitimacy of calls in the north of England for greater infrastructure investment, describing it as a “disgrace” that rail links between Leeds and Manchester had not been upgraded 20 years ago.

He said: “We should be confident in saying that London prospers when the rest of the UK prospers. This is not a zero sum game, when we get better at explaining the links between London and the rest of the UK, we will become better at making the arguments we need to make for Crossrail 2, Bakerloo extension or housing.”