How ‘Stateside Sadiq’ Khan’s vanity trip to the US will cost British taxpayers ‘tens of thousands of pounds’: London Mayor accused of ‘swanning about’ America simply to pose for cringeworthy photo ops

  • Labour Mayor of London jetted into the US late last Sunday on five-day tour taking in New York and California
  • Mr Khan wants more tourists after capital lost out on £7.4billion in revenue in 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic
  • Tories have accused him of ‘swanning around’ the US  cost of tens of thousands of pounds of public money.” 

Sadiq Khan’s ‘swanning around’ the US is likely to cost British taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds as critics questioned whether the transatlantic trip is ‘to promote London or to promote himself’.

The Mayor of London is on a five day tour of America that has seen him schmoozing with James Corden and Hillary Clinton or taking the ceremonial first pitch at a Major League Baseball match.

Critics have suggested that Mayor Khan is so keen for publicity on the trip he calls a £10million trade mission that even a cup of coffee with former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, was turned into a photo op.

And after jetting across the country to the Silicon Valley in California, The Mayor of London grabbed more headlines after he said Donald Trump’s term as US president led to a significant rise in racial abuse directed at him – and urged Elon Musk not to let the billionaire return to Twitter unless he was sure Trump had ‘learned his lesson’.

Amid suggestions commercial sponsorship and public cash may be funding the trip, London Assembly member for Croydon, Neil Garratt, who is Conservative spokesman for the economy and tourism in London, has written to the Mayor demanding to know the cost of the trip and who is paying. 

Mr Garratt told MailOnline Mr Khan has been ‘swanning around America promoting himself’ while on a taxpayer-funded ‘jolly overseas’, hours after Home Secretary Priti Patel said his ‘time would be better spent focusing on knife and drug crime in London’ rather than being in America.

‘The insider view at City Hall is he’s leaving politics at the end of his second term, so this week looks more like a self-promoting “gizza job” tour at taxpayers’ expense’, Mr Garratt said, adding: ‘Is this a trip for the Mayor to promote London or to promote himself? The Mayor should do that on his own time, not at the cost of tens of thousands of pounds of public money’.

London Conservatives told MailOnline there are questions about ‘probity and transparency’ in the Mayor’s office after their demand to know what the trip is costing Londoners, who have been handed a record 8.8 per cent council tax increase, was knocked back.

Suspicions were raised after Mr Khan shared a tweet thanking United Airlines for ‘getting me to NYC safely’, prompting speculation the £12bn airline may have provided free or discounted flights. 

City Hall has said that the full costs of the visit will be calculated on the Mr Khan’s return to London. But a week-long trip to China by Boris Johnson when he was mayor cost taxpayers £65,000 due to flights, accommodation and expenses for him and his entourage. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan greets James Corden at a reception in Los Angeles last night to boost London’s tourism industry as his five-day US tour comes to an end

The Labour Mayor visited a licensed cannabis cultivation business in Los Angeles. A Tory rival at City Hall said his face appeared so blank, they asked: ‘Can you get high from just smelling the stuff??’

Earlier this week Mr Khan threw the first pitch at the San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies baseball game at Oracle Park

He was asked for a selfie with Female Founders of London & Partners’ trade mission at Plug & Play in Silicon Valley

The Labour Mayor makes Hillary Clinton laugh as they meet at the Clinton Foundation offices in New York

Sadiq Khan with the Coldstream Guards at the ‘Let’s Do London’ in a ‘Times Square Takeover’

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan walks to a television interview in New York City on the first day of a 5 day visit to the US

Home Secretary Priti Patel has savaged Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s plans to legalise cannabis – telling him ‘drugs ruin communities, tear apart families and destroy lives’.

Mrs Patel hit out at Mr Khan after pictures emerged of him in the US – on what he called a trip to  ‘bang the drum’ for London – visiting a legal drug farm and shop.

Mr Khan was so impressed with the cannabis outlet and production line he announced the formation of a new group to look at decriminalising the drug in Britain.

But the photoshot – which featured him looking serious surrounded by the plants – has prompted utter disbelief in some quarters.

Mrs Patel, who has vowed to crackdown on middle-class drug users, was no plan of the Mayor’s drive.

She said: ‘Sadiq Khan’s time would be better spent focusing on knife and drug crime in London.

‘The Mayor has no powers to legalise drugs.

‘They ruin communities, tear apart families and destroy lives.’ 

Today Mr Khan claimed he was on a ‘fact finding mission’ to a California cannabis farm so he can explore the potential benefits of legalising the drug in the capital.  Hours earlier he was at a LA party with late-night TV host and former Londoner James Corden, who he embraced at a drinks reception also attended Love Actually director Richard Curtis.

The former Labour MP, who previously admitted smoking cannabis on a friend’s stag do in Amsterdam in his twenties, stared blankly at the plants as he wandered through them. Tory Leader at City Hall, Susan Hall, tweeted a picture of the visit and said: ‘That’s an interesting look on his face. Can you get high from just smelling the stuff??’ 

The visit to the drug farm sparked an angry rebuke from Tory Home Secretary Priti Patel, who reminded him he does not have the power to change the criminal law and his ‘time would be better spent focusing on knife and drug crime in London’.

Mr Khan continued his four-day tour of the US, which has included visits to New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, where he launched a £10million campaign to bring more tourists to the British capital.

The Mayor’s spokesman said: ‘The Mayor is in America this week to bang the drum for London. A big part of our continued recovery from the pandemic will be attracting international tourism, business and investment to our city once again. Tourism accounts for as many as one in five jobs in London and contributes almost 12 per cent of the city’s Gross Domestic Product.

‘The Mayor is committed to keeping the costs of the visit to a bare minimum and maximising value for money. Flight arrangements, including the Mayor’s, are part of a broader agreement between the Greater London Authority and United Airlines.’

On Monday Mr Khan attended the launch of an international tourism campaign – Let’s Do London – in Times Square, after being photographed wandering around New York like a tourus

Despite being in America to promote tourism Sadiq still found time to take centre stage at the San Francisco Giant’s stadium to take the ceremonial first pitch.

He had even found time to practice his throw while in Central Park, New York, the previous day.

Mr Khan’s visit to the States took him from meetings with Hilary Clinton and the Mayor of New York on the East Coast on Monday to the tech firms of Silicon Valley on Tuesday, where he met with Google and LinkedIn executives in San Francisco,

While there, the mayor also waded into the debate over whether Donald Trump should be allowed back on Twitter after its new owner, Elon Musk, suggested he would reinstate his account.

Mr Khan said the former president’s period in office had led to a significant rise in racial abuse directed at him – and sharply dropped after he was banned.

Mr Trump first criticised the London leader in 2016 for his response to the London Bridge terror attacks, then during a visit to the UK in 2019 called Mr Khan a ‘stone cold loser’ who had failed to manage crime rates in the capital.

Mr Khan, who is also the first Muslim to be elected the mayor of a major Western city, said Mr Musk should ‘wait and see’ if Mr Trump had learnt his lesson.

‘If it’s the case that Donald Trump is going to use Twitter responsibly, I think that’s all well and good.

‘If he breaks the rules, there needs to be consequences and we can’t afford a situation where people think social media is where people behave irresponsibly, where you see an increase in not just racism, sexism and misogyny but also division.’

Sadiq Khan was deep in conversation with British actor and comedian Mr Corden, who has become a star in the US

Mayor Khan walks through cannabis plants which are being legally cultivated at ‘Traditional’ a licensed factory in Los Angeles

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaking during a visit to the Islamic Centre of Southern California in Los Angeles, Wednesday May 11, 2022

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (left) meeting Mayor of LA Eric Garcetti at City Hall in Los Angeles. Wednesday May 11, 2022

Sadiq Khan meets children at the Islamic Centre of Southern California during a visit to Los Angeles on day 3 of a planned 5 day

Sadiq Khan pitches the first ball at the San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies baseball game at Oracle Park. He then spoke to Gabe Kapler, manager of the Giants

The Mayor of London with his personalised Major League baseball jersey

Khan takes part in a Q&A with students at Stanford University in California hosted by student Rustom Birdie

Sadiq Khan practices his pitching in Central Park in New York

A trip to a coffee shop for the jet-lagged mayor with former New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg was also turned into a photo op

London mayor Sadiq Khan speaks during the ‘Let’s Do London’ U.S. tourism campaign launch in Times Square

Perhaps unaware of who was, Mayor Khan walked through Manhattan with New Yorkers on the first day of his trip

During the trip, City Hall announced this week US league baseball matches will again be played in London from next Summer.

To celebrate, Mr Khan took centre stage at the Giants’ stadium wearing an oversized jersey with his name emblazoned on it.

Commentators said he received a ‘modest reception’ from the 21,000 fans when introduced during the interval.

He later told ITV London: ‘One of the things I have been making clear during this trip is my aspiration to have London as the sporting capital of the world – not just American football, baseball, boxing, tennis, cricket and so forth, but at some stage we would like the Olympics back as well..’

And yesterday’s cannabis farm visit in Los Angeles and new decriminalisation group puts him on a collision course with Labour leader Keir Starmer.

A party spokesperson confirmed: ‘Labour does not support changing the law on drugs.

‘Drugs policy is not devolved to mayors and under Labour would continue to be set by national government.’

The Mayor of London said former justice secretary Lord Charlie Falconer QC will be the chair of the first London Drugs Commission, which will assess the effectiveness of UK drug laws.

Cannabis is currently classed as a class B drug, with a maximum sentence of five years in prison for possession. And while he can influence the debate, Mr Khan has no say in changing the law.

Though advocates say smoking or eating the drug can make people feel happier, sceptics warn that regular cannabis use increases the risk of developing a psychotic illness. Results from European neighbours offer an insight into the potential pitfalls of the policy – with Portugal seeing a huge surge in cannabis-induced psychosis after it decriminalised the drug in 2001.

Mr Khan later visited Gorrila RX Wellness shop in the Crenshaw area of the city, which stocks 1,900 brands of cannabis-related products including beverages, edibles and coffee beans.

Kika Keith, owner of the shop, said the decriminalisation of cannabis in the UK would ‘tremendously help’ London’s black community.

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