As the first Muslim mayor of a western capital, London Mayor Sadiq Khan says he’s got too much to prove and improve to be sidetracked by the adversity that’s beset his 16-month tenure.
Sadiq Khan accused Donald Trump of adopting the language of Islamic State and “playing their game” by adopting the terror group’s clash of civilisations rhetoric.
Speaking at a Guardian Live event at the Labour party conference in Brighton, the London mayor said he was a “reluctant participant” in the continuing hostility between himself and the US president.
But Khan made it clear that he was offended by Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims and the president’s claim that he would make an exception for the Labour politician.
“My view was firstly ‘I’m not exceptional’ and secondly ‘Think about what you are saying.’ Because what you are saying is not dissimilar to what Daesh or so-called IS says.
“They say that there is a clash of civilisations, it is not possible to be a Muslim and a westerner, and the west hates us. And you are inadvertently playing their game, you are helping them.”
Speaking to the Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, Khan praised the contribution American Muslims had made to the country, including as students, artists and politicians.
He said Trump’s ban on travellers from a number of Muslim-majority countriesgave the “wrong impression” of the religion.
“I’m a westerner, but also a very proud Muslim. There are some people who want to divide our communities – I’m not going to let them,” Khan said.
He also spoke about Labour’s performance in the June general election, when the party secured 40% of the vote and stripped Theresa May of her parliamentary majority.
Asked what the result was down to, Khan said: “Jeremy Corbyn.”
He suggested that Labour had taken tips from The West Wing. “Let Jeremy be Jeremy,” he said, praising the manifesto, and the success in bringing back old Labour voters and energising young people.
He said Corbyn spoke to the public’s anger about unfairness and inequality. “He wasn’t doing it to triangulate. He was authentic. Jeremy has always believed that,” Khan said.
The London mayor stressed again that in terms of explaining the result, “the one thing above everything else [was] Jeremy”.
He said Labour had not won the election, but the “direction of travel” had been right, and he believed Corbyn was on track to be prime minister.
Khan also said that he was in favour of what he called “hybrid” shortlists, which would consist of women and people from ethnic minorities, when selecting candidates to become MPs.
Asked in quickfire questions whether he would choose Corbyn or John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, Khan said it was like being asked to choose one of the Beatles.
On housing, he called for a sea change in the attitude of central government as he argued that some properties that local residents could afford were being bought up from abroad and left empty.
“Some of my best friends are foreigners [but] we should have homes for Londoners,” Khan said.