Sadiq Aman Khan (/
Born in Tooting, South London, to a working-class British Pakistani family, Khan earned a law degree from the University of North London. He subsequently worked as a solicitor specialising in human rights and chaired Liberty for three years. Joining the Labour Party, Khan was a Councillor for the London Borough of Wandsworth from 1994 to 2006 before being elected as the Member of Parliament for Tooting at the 2005 general election. Under Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Khan was appointed Minister of State for Communities in 2008, later becoming Minister of State for Transport. A key ally of Ed Miliband, he served in Miliband's Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Minister for London.
Khan was elected Mayor of London at the 2016 mayoral election, succeeding Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson. He immediately resigned as MP upon his victory at the election. Khan won the largest number of votes in one election of any politician in British history. In office, he introduced reforms to limit charges on London's public transport, backed a Gatwick Airport expansion and focused on uniting the city's varied communities. He was a vocal supporter of the unsuccessful Britain Stronger in Europe campaign to retain UK membership of the European Union. He has been included in the Time 100 list of most influential people in the world.
Khan was born on 8 October 1970 at St George's Hospital in Tooting, South London to a working-class Sunni Muslim family. His grandparents migrated from Lucknow in United Provinces, British India to Pakistan following the partition of India in 1947. His father Amanullah and mother Sehrun arrived in London from Pakistan in 1968. Khan was the fifth of eight children, seven of whom were boys. In London, Amanullah worked as a bus driver and Sehrun as a seamstress.
Khan and his siblings grew up in a three-bedroom council flat on the Henry Prince Estate in Earlsfield. He attended Fircroft Primary School and then Ernest Bevin School, a local comprehensive. Khan studied science and mathematics at A-level, in the hope of eventually becoming a dentist. A teacher recommended that he read law instead, as he had an argumentative personality. The teacher's suggestion, along with the American television programme L.A. Law, inspired Khan to do so. He read Law at the University of North London (now London Metropolitan University). His parents later moved out of their council flat and purchased their own home. Like his brothers, Khan was a fan of sport, particularly enjoying football, cricket, and boxing.
From his earliest years, Khan worked: "I was surrounded by my mum and dad working all the time, so as soon as I could get a job, I got a job. I got a paper round, a Saturday job—some summers I laboured on a building site." The family continues to send money to relatives in Pakistan, "because we're blessed being in this country." He and his family often encountered racism, which led to him and his brothers taking up boxing at the Earlsfield Amateur Boxing Club. While studying for his degree, between the ages of 18 and 21, he had a Saturday job at the Peter Jones department store in Sloane Square.
Before entering the House of Commons in 2005, Khan practised as a solicitor. After completing his law degree in 1991, Khan took his Law Society finals at the College of Law in Guildford. In 1994 he married Saadiya Ahmed, who was also a solicitor.
In 1994 he became a trainee solicitor at a firm of solicitors called Christian Fisher; the firm undertook mainly legal aid cases. The partners were Michael Fisher and Louise Christian. Khan became a partner in 1997, and like Christian, specialised in human rights law. When Fisher left in 2002, the firm was renamed Christian Khan. Khan left the firm in 2004, after he became the prospective Labour candidate for the Tooting parliamentary constituency.
- Bubbins vs The United Kingdom (European Court of Human Rights – shooting of an unarmed individual by police marksmen)
- HSU and Thompson v Met Police (wrongful arrest/police damages)
- Reeves v Met Police (duty of care to prisoners)
- Murray v CAB (discrimination)
- Ahmed v University of Oxford (racial discrimination against a student)
- Dr Jadhav v Secretary of State for Health (racial discrimination in the employment of Indian doctors by the health service)
- CI Logan v Met Police (racial discrimination)
- Supt Dizaei v Met Police (police damages, discrimination)
- Inquest into the death of David Rocky Bennett (use of restraints)
- Lead solicitor on Mayday demonstration 2001 test case litigation (Human Rights Act)
- Farrakhan v Home Secretary (Human Rights Act): in 2001, Khan represented the American Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in the High Court and overturned a ban on him entering the United Kingdom, first imposed in 1986. The government subsequently won on appeal.
- In February 2000, Khan represented a group of Kurdish actors who were arrested by Metropolitan Police during a rehearsal of the Harold Pinter play Mountain Language, securing £150,000 in damages for the group for their wrongful arrest and the trauma caused by the arrest.
- McDowell and Taylor v Met Police: Leroy McDowell and Wayne Taylor successfully sued the Metropolitan Police for assault and false imprisonment.
- Represented Maajid Nawaz, Reza Pankhurst and Ian Nisbet in Egyptian court when they were arrested on charges of trying to revive Hizb ut-Tahrir.
First term: 2005–2010
Before entering Parliament, Khan represented Tooting as a Councillor for the London Borough of Wandsworth from 1994 to 2006, and was granted the title of Honorary Alderman of Wandsworth upon his retirement from local politics.
In 2003, Tooting Constituency Labour Party decided to open its parliamentary selection to all interested candidates, including the incumbent MP since 1974, Tom Cox. This prompted Cox, then in his mid-70s, to announce his retirement rather than risk de-selection. In the subsequent selection contest, Khan defeated five other local candidates to become Labour's candidate for the seat. He was elected to Parliament at the 2005 general election.
Khan was one of the Labour MPs who led the successful opposition to Prime Minister Tony Blair's proposed introduction of 90 days' detention without charge for those suspected of terrorism offences. In recognition of this, The Spectator—a right-wing magazine then edited by Boris Johnson—awarded him the "Newcomer of the Year Award" at the 2005 Parliamentarian of the Year Awards. The magazine's editorial board stated that he had received the award "for the tough-mindedness and clarity with which he has spoken about the very difficult issues of Islamic terror". In August 2006, he was a signatory of an open letter to Tony Blair that was signed by prominent Muslims and published in The Guardian. The letter criticised UK foreign policy and in particular the 2003 invasion of Iraq, stating that Blair's policies had caused great harm to civilians in the Middle East and provided "ammunition to extremists who threaten us all".
Khan had to repay £500 in expenses in 2007 in relation to a newsletter sent to constituents featuring a 'Labour rose', which was deemed to be unduly prominent. While the content of the newsletter was not deemed to be party political, the rose logo was found to be unduly prominent which may have had the effect of promoting a political party. There was no suggestion that Khan had deliberately or dishonestly compiled his expenses claims, which were not explicitly disallowed under the rules at that time. The rules were retrospectively changed disallowing the claim, which had previously been approved by the House of Commons authorities.
On 3 February 2008, The Sunday Times claimed that a conversation between Khan and prisoner Babar Ahmad – a constituent accused of involvement in terrorism – at Woodhill Prison in Milton Keynes had been bugged by the Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorist Branch. An inquiry was launched by the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw. There was concern that the bugging contravened the Wilson Doctrine that police should not bug MPs. The report concluded that the doctrine did not apply because it affected only bugging requiring approval by the Home Secretary, while in Khan's case the monitoring was authorised by a senior police officer. The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, then announced a further policy review and said the bugging of discussions between MPs and their constituents should be banned.
In June 2007, Blair stood down as both Prime Minister and Labour Party leader, to be replaced by Gordon Brown. Brown thought highly of Khan, who moved up the parliamentary ranks under Brown's Premiership. Brown made Khan a party whip, who was therefore charged with ensuring that Labour-sponsored legislation made it through the parliamentary process to become law. In July 2008, Khan helped push through a government proposal to permit the detention of those suspected of terror offenses for 42 days without charge. For his part in this, Khan was criticised by Liberty's Shami Chakrabarti and others, who claimed that Khan had contravened his principles on civil liberties issues.
On Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Cabinet reshuffle of 3 October 2008, Khan was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. In 2008, the Fabian Society published Khan's book, Fairness Not Favours. In this work, Khan argued that the Labour Party had to reconnect with British Muslims, arguing that it had lost the trust of this community as a result of the Iraq War. He also said that British Muslims had their own part to play in reconnecting with politicians, arguing that they needed to rid themselves of a victim mentality and take greater responsibility for their own community. In the House of Commons in January 2009, Khan criticised Pope Benedict XVI for the rehabilitation of Bishop Richard Williamson following his remarks about the Holocaust, a move he described as "highly unsavoury" and of "great concern".
In June 2009 he was promoted to Minister of State for Transport. In what was believed to be a first for an MP, Khan used his Twitter account to self-announce his promotion. Though Khan was not a member of the cabinet, he attended meetings for agenda items covering his policy area, thus becoming the first Muslim to sit in on the British Cabinet. As Transport Minister, Khan supported plans to expand Heathrow Airport with the addition of a third runway.
During this period, Khan served as chairman of the socialist Fabian Society, remaining on its Executive Committee. In 2009, he won the Jenny Jeger Award (Best Fabian Pamphlet) for his writing "Fairness not Favours: How to re-connect with British Muslims".
In March 2010, Khan publicly stated that for a second successive year he would not be taking a pay rise as an MP or Minister, declaring "At a time when many people in Tooting and throughout the country are having to accept pay freezes I don't think it's appropriate for MPs to accept a pay rise."
Second and third term: 2010–2016
In 2010, Khan was re-elected as the MP for Tooting despite a swing against his party of 3.6% and a halving of his previous majority. His campaign in Tooting had been supported by Harris Bokhari, a founder of the Patchwork Foundation as well as an active member and former controversial spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain, who reportedly used anti-Ahmadiyya sentiment to mobilise Muslim voters at a mosque in Tooting to vote for Khan instead of the rival Ahmadiyya candidate, Nasser Butt. In 2019, Bokhari was appointed to join Khan's new Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Advisory Group. In the subsequent Labour leadership election Khan was an early backer of Ed Miliband, becoming his campaign manager. In the wake of Labour's 2010 election defeat, Acting Leader Harriet Harman appointed Khan Shadow Secretary of State for Transport. Khan orchestrated Ed Miliband's successful campaign to become Labour leader, and was appointed to the senior roles of Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Justice Secretary.
In April 2010 it was revealed that Khan had repaid falsely claimed expenses on two occasions, when literature was sent to his constituents. The first incident concerned letters sent out before the 2010 General Election which were ruled to have the "unintentional effect of promoting his return to office", the second a £2,550 repayment for Christmas, Eid, and birthday cards for constituents, dating back to 2006. Under House of Commons rules, pre-paid envelopes and official stationery can only be used for official parliamentary business. Khan's claim for the greetings cards was initially rejected, but he presented a new invoice no longer identifying the nature of the claim, and this was accepted. Khan attributed the improper claim for the cards to "inexperience" and human error and apologised for breaking the expenses rules.
In early 2013, Miliband appointed Khan as the Shadow Minister for London, a position that he held in addition to his other responsibilities. In December 2013, the Fabian Society published a collection of essays edited by Khan that was titled Our London. Khan was also tasked with overseeing Labour's campaign for the 2014 London local elections, in which the party advanced its control in the city, gaining hold of twenty of the thirty-two boroughs. By this point, there was much talk of Khan making a bid for the London Mayoralty in 2016, when incumbent Mayor Boris Johnson would be stepping down. His options were affected by the outcome of the 2015 general election; if Labour won, then he would be expected to become a government minister, but if they lost then he would be free to pursue the Mayoralty. In December 2015, Khan voted against the Cameron government's plans to expand the bombing of targets in the Islamic State.
Polls had suggested that Labour could be the largest party in a hung parliament following the 2015 general election, but ultimately the Conservatives secured victory. In the vote, Khan was returned for a third term as MP for Tooting, defeating his Conservative rival by 2,842 votes. He was one of 36 Labour MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate in the Labour leadership election of 2015, but has said that he was "no patsy" to Corbyn and would stand up to him. He later stated that he nominated Corbyn to "broaden the debate" but did not then vote for him.
On 9 May 2016, Khan resigned as an MP by his appointment to the ancient office of Crown Steward and Bailiff of The Three Chiltern Hundreds, a customary practice in the UK. This triggered a by-election in Tooting to be held in June 2016.
He is regularly named among the Top 100 London politicians in the London Evening Standard's annual poll of the 1,000 most influential Londoners and is an Ambassador for Mosaic Network, an initiative set up by Prince Charles.
Mayor of London
Khan's priorities as Mayor.
Nomination as Labour candidate
After Labour's defeat at the 2015 general election, Khan resigned from the Shadow Cabinet. He then announced himself as a candidate to be the Labour nominee for the London Mayoral elections of 2016. Khan soon gained the support of prominent figures in the party, including former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, who was on Labour's leftist, socialist wing, and Oona King, who was on its centrist, Blairite wing. He also received the backing of the Labour-affiliated GMB and Unite unions, and the nomination of 44 of Labour's 73 parliamentary constituent parties in London, leaving him as one of the top two contenders.
Khan's main rival was Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith; Khan described him as a spoiled dilettante who "never finishes anything he starts". A YouGov poll for LBC suggested that while the other main contender to be the Labour nominee, Tessa Jowell, would defeat Goldsmith in a mayoral election, Khan would not. In hustings, Khan placed an emphasis on his working-class origins, which would play against Jowell's wealthier upbringing, and argued for the need for change in London, thereby insinuating that Jowell would represent too much continuity with the outgoing Johnson administration. In September 2015, Khan was announced as the winning nominee. He gained 48,152 votes (58.9%) against Jowell's 35,573 (41.1%). He was the favourite candidate in all three voting categories; Labour Party members, members of affiliated trade unions and organisations, and registered supporters who had paid £3 in order to vote.
Khan vowed that if elected, he would freeze public transport fares in London for four years. He claimed that this would deprive Transport for London (TfL) of £452 million, but TfL stated that it would deprive them of £1.9 billion, taking into account projected population growth over this period. Although he had previously backed Heathrow expansion, he now opposed it, instead calling for expansion at Gatwick Airport; he was likely aware that supporting the former was a vote loser in London. Aware of the severe housing shortage in London, he also spoke of clamping down on foreign property investors, and proposed the establishment of both a "London living rent" tenure and a not-for-profit lettings agency that could undercut commercial operators in order to ease the high cost of renting in the city. He also called for house building on land owned by TfL, insisting that at least 50% of those constructed should be "genuinely affordable".
The YouGov poll had revealed that 31% of Londoners stated that they would not be "comfortable" with a Muslim mayor. Aware that many voters were suspicious regarding the loyalties of British Muslims to the British state, Khan emphasised his commitment to liberal social values. As part of this, he declared his opposition to homophobia, and said that he would have "zero tolerance for anti-Semitism". He openly condemned Islamic extremism and called on the Muslim community to take a leading role in combating it, although at the same time acknowledged the Islamophobia that many British Muslims faced. He also distanced himself from Corbyn, rebuking Labour's socialist leader for his links to armed anti-Israel groups, and criticising him for not singing the national anthem at an event commemorating the Battle of Britain. Concerned that Corbyn's socialist platform was alienating many of London's businesses, Khan declared that he would be "the most pro-business mayor ever", and met with groups such as the Federation of Small Businesses and City of London Corporation. He also ensured that his campaign was run entirely separate from Corbyn. Conversely, Goldsmith's Conservative campaign emphasised connections between Khan and Corbyn. Both the Conservative campaign and several Conservative-aligned newspapers sought to tar Khan as an apologist for, or even sympathiser with, Islamic extremism.
He is London's first ethnic minority mayor. Various press sources noted that Khan's election made him the first actively affiliated Muslim to become mayor of a major Western capital. International press sources often focused on his religious identity, with many right-wing American media outlets reacting with horror at his election.
Khan was officially sworn in as Mayor in a multi-faith ceremony held in Southwark Cathedral the following day. His first act as mayor was his appearance at a Holocaust memorial ceremony in a rugby stadium in North London, although due to delays with the results of the election, he officially took office on 9 May.
In the buildup to the referendum on the UK's continuing membership of the European Union (EU), Khan was a vocal supporter of the 'Remain' camp. He agreed to attend a Britain Stronger in Europe campaign event with the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to demonstrate cross-party support for remaining within the EU, for which he was criticised by Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who claimed that sharing a platform with the Conservatives "discredits us". After the murder of MP Jo Cox during the campaign, Khan called for the country to "pause and reflect" on the manner in which the Leave and Remain camps had been approaching the debate, stating that it had been marred by a "climate of hatred, of poison, of negativity, of cynicism". Following the success of the 'Leave' vote, Khan insisted that all EU citizens living in London were welcome in the city and that he was grateful for the contribution that they made to it. He endorsed the Metropolitan Police's 'We Stand Together' campaign to combat the rise in racial abuse following the referendum, and later backed the 'London is Open' campaign to encourage businesses, artists, and performers to continue coming to the city despite Brexit.
While fasting for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in 2016, Khan declared that he would use the period as an opportunity to help "break down the mystique and suspicion" surrounding Islam in Britain and help to "get out there and build bridges" between communities, organising iftars to be held at synagogues, churches, and mosques. He then appeared at a Trafalgar Square celebration of Eid al-Fitr, endorsing religious freedom and lambasting "criminals who do bad things and use the name of Islam to justify what they do". Following the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, Khan attended a vigil in Old Compton Street, Soho, and insisted that he "will do everything in [his] power to ensure that LGBT Londoners feel safe in every part of our city"; later that month he marched in the LGBT Pride London parade.
In August 2016, Khan declared his support for Owen Smith's bid to oust Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party. Although describing him as a "principled Labour man", Khan said that Corbyn had failed to gain popularity with the electorate and that Labour would not win a general election under Corbyn's leadership.
Transport and housing policies
On transport, Khan immediately announced the introduction of a "Hopper" bus ticket which would allow a passenger to take two bus journeys within an hour for the price of one; it was intended to benefit those on low incomes most. In June, Khan announced that his electoral pledge to prevent transport fare rises would only apply to "single fares" and pay as you go fares, and not daily, monthly, weekly, or yearly railcards; he was widely criticised for this, including by the Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon, who accused him of having broken his promise. In June 2016 he ordered TfL to ban any advertising on its network that was deemed to engage in body shaming and the demeaning of women. In July he urged the government to allow TfL to take control of the failing Southern rail service, and in August launched the 24-hour Underground service on Fridays and Saturdays, an idea initially proposed by Johnson two years previously.
In his first weeks as Mayor, Khan criticised foreign investors for treating homes in London as "gold bricks for investment", instead urging them to invest in the construction of "affordable homes" for Londoners through a new agency, Homes for Londoners, which would be funded by both public and private money. However, in contrast to a pre-election statement, he revealed that he no longer supported rent freezes in the city. Insisting that he would "oppose building on the Green Belt, which is now even more important than when it was created", Khan vetoed the construction of a football stadium and two blocks of flats on Green Belt land in Chislehurst, after the plan had already been supported by Bromley Council.
Khan backed expansion of London City Airport, removing the block on this instituted by Johnson's administration; environmentalist campaigners like Siân Berry stated that this was a breach of Khan's pledge to be London's "greenest ever" mayor. Opposing expansion at Heathrow Airport, he urged Prime Minister Theresa May to instead support expansion at Gatwick Airport, stating that to do so would bring "substantial economic benefits" to London.
Khan launched a "No Nights Sleeping Rough" taskforce to tackle youth homelessness in London in October 2016.
Khan has called air pollution “the biggest public health emergency of a generation.” In 2017, he announced plans to establish an "Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ)" across London that would charge owners of the most polluting cars a fine of £12.50 per day. The zone was introduced in 2019 in Central London and will be extended to the North and South Circulars in October 2021. It resulted in a drop of the worst polluting vehicles entering the zone each day from 35,578 in March 2019 to 26,195 in April after the charge was introduced.
Khan criticised Great Britain's government in June 2017 for its lack of drive in improving general air quality. He stated that the government’s action plan on the issue lacked “serious detail, fails to tackle all emission sources, such as from buildings, construction or the river, and does not utilise the government’s full resources and powers”, reflecting its low prioritisation of the issue in the past.
In September, he announced that the first 50 air quality audits for primary schools in the worst-polluted areas of the city had been launched with the objective to reduce air pollution around public schools. The audits will continue until the end of 2017, with reports being published in 2018.
Khan has been criticised for failing to deal with a rise in knife crime during his term in office. In an interview with LBC, he accepted responsibility for the situation as the Police and Crime Commissioner for the city, but blamed budgetary cuts by the UK Conservative Government. Khan stated that knife crime is "rising across England & Wales" and that it is "clearly a national problem that requires national solutions."
Political image and views
Writing for The Spectator, the political commentator Nick Cohen described Khan as a centre-left social democrat, while the journalist Amol Rajan termed him "a torch-bearer for the social democratic wing" of the Labour Party. The BBC describe Khan as being located on the party's soft left. In an article for Al Jazeera, the Marxist commentator Richard Seymour described Khan as a centrist, while Matt Wrack, the General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, characterised Khan as belonging to "that part of the Labour Party that was in government under Blair and Brown". The journalist Dave Hill described Khan as a social liberal.
Khan has described himself as a "proud feminist".
Some supporters of independent politician Lutfur Rahman claimed that Khan was part of an Islamophobic Labour establishment while Khan received death threats from Islamic extremists after voting in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act. He was also threatened by the far-right group Britain First, which in 2016 threatened to take "direct action" against Khan where he "lives, works and prays" as part of an anti-Muslim campaign.
Journalist Dave Hill has said that Khan was "savvy, streetwise and not averse to a scrap", whilst also describing him as having a "joshing, livewire off-stage personality" which differed from the formal image he often projected while onstage. Khan used to perform stand-up comedy before running for Mayor, including a ten-minute money-raising Stand Up for Labour routine. Comedian Arthur Smith stated that Khan could become a "good club-level comedian one day". During the 2016 Mayoral campaign, Goldsmith referred to Khan as "a caricature machine politician... the sort of politician who justified peoples' mistrust in politics", as evidence citing Khan's U-turn on supporting Heathrow expansion. Another rival in the 2016 Mayoral campaign, George Galloway of the Respect Party, referred to Khan as a "flip-flop merchant" and a "product of the Blairite machine".
There has been an ongoing political feud between Khan and US president Donald Trump since 2016, when Khan criticised Trump over his proposed "Muslim ban" and Trump responded by attacking Khan a number of times on Twitter over the next several years. Shortly before Trump's 2019 state visit to the UK, Khan compared Trump to "European dictators of the 1930s and 40s". Upon arrival, Trump responded on Twitter by insulting Khan, calling him a "stone-cold loser" and comparing him to another mayor he also targets, Bill de Blasio.
Khan is a practising Muslim who observes the fast during Ramadan and regularly attends Al-Muzzammil Mosque in Tooting. Journalist Dave Hill described Khan as "a moderate, socially liberal Muslim". Khan has expressed the view that "too often the people who are 'representing' the Islamic faith aren't representative, they're angry men with beards. And that is not what Islam is about."
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But because of the processes involved, he won't be technically in office until just after midnight on Monday.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sadiq Khan.|
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 2010–present
- Contributions in Parliament during 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 at Hansard Archives
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Articles authored at Journalisted
- @SadiqKhan Verified Twitter Account
- @MayorofLondon Official Verified Twitter Account
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament
| Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
The Lord Adonis
| Minister of State for Transport
| Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
| Shadow Secretary of State for Justice
The Lord Falconer of Thoroton
| Shadow Lord Chancellor|
| Shadow Minister for London
| Mayor of London
|Party political offices|
| Chair of the Fabian Society