London mayor sparks fury with '˜right-wing populism' warning

London mayor Sadiq Khan has provoked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon into a furious reaction after a section of a speech he is due to give at the Scottish Labour conference warning of the dangers of right-wing populism was released today.

Sadiq Khan. Photo:Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire
Sadiq Khan. Photo:Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire

The mayor will tell delegates in Perth there is ‘no difference between those who try to divide us on the basis of wther we are English or Scottish and those who try to divide us on the basis of our background, race or religion.’

And he will urge Scots to fight against ‘right-wing populist and nationalist parties’.

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A portion of the speech was released by the mayor’s official twitter account on Saturday morning and First Minister Sturgeon immediately labelled it ‘spectacularly ill-judged’ and ‘an insult to all those Scots who support independence for reasons of inclusion & social justice’.

Mr Khan is due to speak at 2pm, directly before Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale gives her keynote address to her party’s conference.

In his tweet Mayor Khan said he would tell the conference: “The world is becoming an increasingly turbulent and divided place. We’ve seen Brexit, President Trump elected in the United States and the rise of right-wing populist and nationalist parties around the world.

“It is up uo us - whether in Scotland or in London - to fight this trend.

“The last thing we need to do now is pit different parts of our country or sections of our society against each other - or to further fuel division or seek separation.

“There is no difference between those who try to divide us on the basis of whether we are English or Scottish and those who try to divide us on the basis of our background, race or religion.

“The antidote to Brexit and the rise of right-wing populist parties is not to run away, break away or push our neighbours away. It is to lead in a different direction - the right direction.

Now is the time to build unity, create a more United Kingdom and ensure everyone has the opportunities to succeed.”

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reacted angrily to the excerpts.

She tweeted back: “I’m a big admirer of @SadiqKhan but today’s intervention is spectacularly ill-judged... it is an insult to all those Scots who support independence for reasons of inclusion & social justice - the antithesis of what he says, and it is a sign of the sheer desperation and moral bankruptcy that has driven so many from Scottish Labour’s ranks. Very disappointing.”