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AFP
May 5, 2021

London’s feisty mayor Sadiq Khan fighting for second term

World

AFP
May 5, 2021

LONDON: London Mayor Sadiq Khan, running for re-election on Thursday, has risen from humble roots to spar with prime ministers and presidents since taking charge of the British capital five years ago.

The 50-year-old politician from the main opposition Labour party, a former human rights lawyer brought up on a London public housing complex, is firm favourite to be returned to City Hall for a second stint.

It will continue a remarkable journey for the Pakistani immigrant bus driver’s son, who was the first Muslim mayor of a Western capital when initially elected in 2016. He has made a name for himself as a vocal critic of Brexit and successive Conservative prime ministers, including his mayoral predecessor Boris Johnson, as well as for a feud with former US president Donald Trump.

The pair became embroiled in an extraordinary war of words, after Khan criticised Trump’s controversial travel ban on people from certain Muslim countries. The mayor allowed an infamous blimp of the president dressed as a baby in a nappy to fly above protests in Parliament Square during his 2018 visit to Britain.

"He once called me a stone cold loser. Only one of us is a loser, and it’s not me," a typically combative Khan told AFP as he campaigned ahead of this week’s poll. Born in London in 1970 to parents who had recently arrived from Pakistan, Khan was the fifth child out of seven brothers and one sister. He grew up in public housing in Tooting, an ethnically mixed residential area in south London, and slept in a bunkbed until he was 24.