One of the less expected consequences of the beginning of the EU referendum campaign appears to have been a significant knock-on effect on the London Mayoral race. Sadiq Khan appears to be building an increasingly strong lead over his Conservative rival, Zac Goldsmith.
Evidence is mounting, both in the polls and anecdotally from the doorstep, that Sadiq Khan is consolidating his lead in part due to Zac Goldsmith’s decision to support the Leave campaign in the EU poll. Whilst opinion may be split nationally on whether to “Remain” or “Leave”, in London the consensus seems to be much more clearly in favour of staying in the European club. Moreover, whilst EU nationals can’t vote in the referendum, they can in the Mayoral election. And there are nearly one million EU nationals living London – easily enough to tip the election one way or another.
Another reason for the rising confidence in the Labour camp is that Sadiq Khan’s efforts to define this election as being about housing costs appear to be working. Previous London elections have focussed a great deal on transport. But in 2016, housing tops every poll of Londoners priorities and even though many experts are dubious on whether either man really has the answer, Khan is proving a more convincing champion of those who struggle to afford London rents than Goldsmith, who recently declared the value of his inherited trust fund to be £1.2bn.
So, as morale rises in the Khan camp and falls in Goldsmith’s team, we must remember there are still two months to go and many Londoners have given little contemplation of the subject to date. Zac and his team continue to paint Sadiq as a risk, and as “Corbyn’s candidate” whilst Sadiq sticks rigidly to his core housing narrative. What Zac needs to do now is change the debate, and fast.