TORY London Mayor candidate Shaun Bailey today accused Sadiq Khan of having more press officers than the PM - after the Mayor hinted he may raise council tax for Londoners.
A furious row broke out as the Labour Mayor's team accused the Tories of campaigning based on "lies and smears" and "taking Londoners for fools".
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updatesSadiq Khan was accused of spending more than £100m on 'pr' during his time as MayorCredit: PA:Press Association Shaun Bailey said the Mayor shouldn't think about raising council tax
Mr Bailey - who is fighting to become Mayor of London next year - claimed the Mayor has a total of 75 people doing his spinning once the press staff for Transport for London, GLA and London Partners are totalled up.
That works out at a total of £100m in "PR spending" during his more than four years as Major, he claimed.
And he urged him to cut that budget rather than think about raising council tax to plug holes in the capital's finances.
That compared to Boris Johnson, who has 19 working for him in No10 - though more across Whitehall.
Mr Bailey, the Conservative candidate for London Mayor, said today: “Over the last four years, Sadiq Khan has spent almost £100 million on PR.
"So it’s no coincidence that he’s now planning to defund the police by £110 million.
"We need police officers, not press officers. We need safer streets, not better PR.
"Yet Sadiq Khan has already cut £38 million from police budgets. All this despite raising the congestion charge, raising fares, and planning to raise council tax.
"Londoners are starting to ask where all the money is going. Why should we pay higher taxes in the middle of a pandemic just to fund City Hall’s PR operation?"
Earlier this week the Mayor was asked whether people living in the capital should prepare for the possibility of higher council tax to fund TfL, which has just secured a £1.billion bailout from the Government.
But Mr Khan failed to rule it out, and told Sky News: "They should be as a consequence of the conditions imposed by the government."
However, Mr Khan's team say he has 15 in his press team - and the extra figures on top are for Transport for London and London & Partners - an external agency which boosts the capital's profile.
A London Labour spokesperson said today: "These are fantasy figures. This increasingly desperate Tory campaign is based on lies, smears and taking Londoners for fools.
"No one has forgotten that the Tory candidate was a crime adviser to David Cameron at a time when austerity saw the met police budget slashed by over £850 million which led to officer numbers fell to a fifteen-year low.
"The Tory mayoral candidate offers no vision, no hope and is not fit to be mayor of this great city."People take the tube as the capital returns to lockdown todayCredit: Alamy Live News The empty capital as people stay at home todayCredit: AFP or licensors Oxford Circus looking deserted this afternoonCredit: Getty Images - Getty
The fuming row came after Commons leader Jacob Rees Mogg accused Mr Khan of being "incompetent" over his running of TFL in the capital and "that is what you get when you have socialists in Government".
He added: "It is an extraordinary record of failure and it is a record of failure that should be put straight, and we should have a Conservative mayor next year and then it will be broad sunlit uplands."
The news comes as London's coronavirus rates began to fall, it was reported today.
New positive tests for Covid have fallen in 19 out of 32 boroughs, official figures show.
Following a rise in cases, the city was previously placed under Tier 2 restrictions, which ban casual sex and meeting friends from different households for a pint inside a pub.
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