The mother of a London child with air pollution listed on their death certificate accused Sir Keir Starmer of “wobbling” over his commitments to clean air and the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).
Labour’s support of the policy being expanded to outer London by Mayor Sadiq Khan appears to have weakened after the Conservatives won the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election last week.
The win for Rishi Sunak came as a surprise after he lost majorities of around 20,000 in North Yorkshire and Somerset on the same day.
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Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah is a clean air campaigner after Ella Roberta Adoo-Kissi-Debrah died in February 2013 aged nine.
A coroner found that London’s air pollution – specifically traffic emissions – contributed to her death from asthma.
Speaking to Sky News, Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah said: “Let me take a deep breath. Keir Starmer went to [the Crick Institute] and he met a respiratory consultant who showed him X-rays of someone with lung cancer, and it was down to air pollution – and he was on board two weeks ago.
“He’s wobbling, isn’t he?
“Keir tells us he’s going to bring in a new clean air act. How are you going to bring in a new clean air act, if you’re wobbling over ULEZ?
“That tells me he hasn’t been listening to the chief medical officer, whose last year report was on air pollution and health.
“I advise Mr Sunak and Mr Starmer and [Liberal Democrat leader] Mr Davey to all read that report.
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“We’re paying 20 billion to the NHS because of air pollution – this isn’t a little asthma matter.
“It affects every organ in our body.
“And I can’t believe they’re playing politics with it.”
Labour had been expecting to win the by-election in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, but the Conservatives held the seat with a majority of just under 500.
The expansion of the ULEZ by Mr Khan has been blamed as the reason people did not want to vote for Labour.
ULEZ charges mean certain older and more polluting vehicles have to pay a daily £12.50 charge to drive in the zone.
Sir Keir has blamed the ULEZ expansion for the loss, but Mr Khan appears to be going ahead with the planned expansion.
Some factions of the Conservative Party have also used the election result to put pressure on Mr Sunak to scrap pledges like stopping new combustion engine sales by 2030, and the 2050 net-zero target.
Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah said she would like to see the scrappage scheme being offered to people with non-ULEZ compliant vehicles expanded.
She also called for the government, the mayor and all political parties to work together on the issue.
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Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah said: “This is about children who are living now – and I have spoken to Sadiq – he needs to remain firm and he needs to remember the outcome of Ella’s inquest.
“He was told to expand [ULEZ] to save the lives of other children.”