Rishi Sunak backs Susan Hall after furore over Sadiq Khan comments

The PM told Tory conference in his keynote speech that Hall was ‘doing a great job holding Sadiq Khan to account’


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has given his full backing the Tory hopeful for London mayor, who was the subject of a furore this week after she said that Sadiq Khan’s “divisive attitude” left Jews “frightened”.

In his keynote speech at Conservative conference yesterday, Sunak said: “Susan Hall is doing a great job holding Sadiq Khan to account,” Sunak said. “You will be safer with Susan.”

The prime minister was speaking shortly after Hall told the JC in an interview that her comments, made in a speech to Conservative Friends of Israel at the conference, had been “misinterpreted”, while the row over them was part of a deliberate attempt to derail her campaign by Labour.

“I know they will set their attack dogs on me,” she said, “and I expect seven months of absolute hell”. But she was, she added, strong enough to withstand it.

“Sometimes people know exactly what you mean but they dissect your words so they can put a spin on it.”

Hall said in her speech: “I live in north London and I know the wealth and joy of the [Jewish] community.

“But I tell you something else, I know how frightened some of the community is because of the divisive attitudes of Sadiq Khan.

“One of the most important things we can do when I become mayor of London is make it safer for everybody, but particularly for our Jewish community.

“So I will ask for as much help as I can in London because we need to defeat him, particularly for our Jewish community.”

Her remarks were criticised by the Board of Deputies, which said in a statement that Khan had treated the London Jewish community “with friendship and respect” during his time as Mayor. Khan said later that he would continue to be “a Mayor for all Londoners”.

Hall told the JC that improving public safety would be the hallmark of her campaign, and that she had focused on Jews in her speech simply because she was speaking at Jewish organisation’s event.

“I will not apologise for speaking up for the Jewish community,” she said, adding that she was equally determined to support Muslims, LGBT people and other minority groups.

She said she had “many Jewish friends and colleagues who are concerned about their safety, and the safety of their children”, singling out the incident in 2021 when a convoy of cars drove through Golders Green shouting obscene threats to Jewish passers-by.

“That genuinely scared a lot of people. Anyone who’s been a victim of crime knows that know in the pit of the stomach. And let’s face it, antisemitism is racism. And when I talk to Jewish people, I find it’s often at the forefront of their minds.”

It was, Hall went on, a simple fact that as Mayor, Sadiq Khan was responsible for the Metropolitan Police, and in her view, it was falling short. One reason, she went on, was that structural changes meant there were no longer commanders in every borough able to liaise with councils and other agencies.

As a former leader of Harrow council, Hall said she always knew “who was the right person to talk to get things done”.

But reorganisation meant the police were now managed in much larger units, which had blurred lines of communication and accountability.

The police, she said, should focus on their core task of fighting crime, rather than indulging in political gestures, such as taking the knee at Black Live Matters protests.

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