Sadiq Khan demanded a standing ovation for emergency service workers today after “one of the darkest times in London’s recent history”.
During an emotional speech at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, the Mayor of London paid tribute to who rushed to help when the Grenfell Tower fire broke out and as the capital endured four terror attacks.
The Labour mayor said the city had seen “too much horror, too much suffering, too much loss” before he took aim at Tory austerity, which he said has made Britain less safe.
During a two-minute long standing ovation, he said: “On behalf of London and the Labour Party, thank you. You truly are heroes.”
He went on: “The Tories used to describe themselves as the party of law and order,” Khan said. “Well, that sounds like a bad joke today. And frankly, as a former Home Secretary, Theresa May should be utterly ashamed of her record.”
The Mayor then highlighted £1bn of real-terms cuts to the Met Police between 2010 and 2021, which he said was directly responsible for the closure of police stations and a reduction in the number of police officers and community support officers.
Police funding for counter-terrorism is set to fall by 7% in real terms over the next three years, he added, before calling on the Government to increase overall police funding at the Budget in November.
It comes as crime, including violent crime, is on the rise. The Mayor cited knife and acid attacks reported in London.
“This all feels very familiar - a weak and divided Tory Government refusing to face up to the challenges ahead,” he said.
“Bickering and infighting over Europe putting our jobs and economy at risk. Chronic underinvestment in public services causing a crisis in our schools and hospitals. And crime on the rise. But conference, this isn’t the 1990, this is now. It’s like Back to the Future, but it isn’t funny.”
Khan praised PC Keith Palmer, the officer who was posthumously awarded the St George’s Medal after he was killed during the Westminster terror attack.
He hailed the heroism of Colleen Anderson, the junior doctor who rushed to help the injured during the attack on Westminster, and Wayne Marques, the British Transport Police officer who suffered several stab wounds after single-handedly taking on three armed attackers during the attack London Bridge.
Khan also paid tribute to Dany Cotton, the London Fire Commissioner, who not only led the operation at Grenfell Tower but spoke openly about receiving counselling after the fire to help her deal with what she witnessed.
The mayor also praised Jeremy Corbyn amid claims the two had been at loggerheads over whether Khan would be able to speak.
He said: “We made huge progress in the general election and the credit for that goes to one person - the leader of our party – Jeremy Corbyn.”