Sadiq Khan has come under fire for appointing an architect of the botched Tube privatisation as one of his Brexit advisors.
In 2003 the then Labour government pushed through controversial plans to separate the running of Tube passenger services from track and station maintenance, despite Londoners voting in the first ever mayoral elections three years earlier overwhelmingly backing mayoral candidates opposed to the plans.
Two consortia, Metronet and Tube Lines, were formed and tasked with maintaining the lines but Metronet ultimately collapsed after its shareholders withdrew funding and walked away from the project. The move left Transport for London responsible for the firm’s debts and ultimately cost taxpayers almost £2bn.
A funding shortfall in the separate Tube Lines venture later led to TfL buying the company from its shareholders to ensure the continued smooth operation of services.
On Monday Mr Khan announced that Baroness Vadera, who devised the Tube PPP scheme while working as an advisor to Gordon Brown, would sit on a ‘Brexit Expert Advisory Panel’ which will provide on-call advice and guidance during his discussions with Ministers.
Other panel members include former Labour minster and European Trade Commissioner Lord Mandelson, Xavier Rolet, chief executive of the London Stock Exchange Group, and Julia Onslow-Cole, Partner, Legal Markets Leader and Head of Global Immigration at PwC.
Announcing his line-up of advisors, Mr Khan said: “I have promised to be most pro-business Mayor that London has ever had – and now I’m delivering on that promise.
“We need to strike a deal that safeguards London’s position as the best city in the world to do business and this expert group of advisors will allow me to tap into some of our top business minds as negotiations progress.”
However the appointment of Baroness Vadera has been criticised by London Conservative MP Stephen Hammond who says seeking advice from a “Brownite pal” responsible for such a loss making initiative “calls into question the Mayor’s judgment.”
Mr Hammond added: “Sadiq Khan promised to be the Mayor for all Londoners, yet just 6 months into the job, he’s letting every Londoner down.”
The MP’s comments follow Conservative London Assembly member Gareth Bacon’s description of Lord Mandelson’s appointment as “a gross misjudgement“ which “the Mayor should reverse immediately.”
Mr Bacon claimed that the peer “is banned from ever criticising the EU at risk of losing a significant pension” and so could not help the Mayor “make the best of that decision for London and Londoners.”