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Sadiq Khan: London’s status as the world’s shopping capital is under threat

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EXCLUSIVE interview with the London Mayor

We caught up with Mayor Sadiq Khan on the sidelines of UK-India Awards in London where he spoke to us exclusively about the recent retail bloodbath, his plans for promoting businesses -– specifically small businesses — post Brexit, and how he will continue to lobby the UK government to change its rules around immigration.

What is your opinion on the recent retail bloodbath and the closing of so many high-street stores in the UK?

I am very concerned about some of the consequences of government policy of the retail sector. One of the great things about London is that it that we are the ‘shopping capital of the world’ and I want people to come to London. However, it is getting very difficult as some of the best brands are closing down. That is why I’ve got plans to support businesses in London, specifically retail, as it is important that we invest in the sector.

How do you plan to continue to support small businesses in the UK post Brexit?

One of the things that is the life blood of the British economy are small businesses. Napoleon the French leader once tried to insult us by saying we are a country of shopkeepers, but I think it is a badge of pride—us being shopkeepers, small businesses. Many people work for a small business or themselves earn a small business, we must support them. That means policies like investing in talent, reducing business rates, having an outward policy on immigration and investment… Because it’s important the government realizes that if they have policies that don’t help small businesses, the economy will stutter and struggle. A pro-business government should be pro small businesses. I want to be, and intent to be, the most pro-business Mayor London has ever had. And I want to do that by being pro-small business.

Lastly, he also addressed the recent decision to exclude Indians from an easier student visa application regime and called it a “wasted opportunity”.

‘To link the two, illegal immigration and students is deeply offensive and muddies the waters. This hostile environment is still here, and we need real concrete evidence that it will change. There isn’t a problem about students overstaying… All the evidence shows that Indians who study here leave with a very positive attitude. So, when they become chief executives or investors, they invest in the UK.

‘I feel this government is being very complacent about Indian investment. They assume it will always be here. My message to the government is no; these talented people can go elsewhere.

‘As we leave the EU, we need to use this opportunity to build better links with countries outside the EU. We must realise Indians are equal partners, we mustn’t talk down to them. It’s a competition to attract talented Indians and we have got to be competing,’ the Mayor added.

The UK-India Awards, organised by UK-based India Inc, are held annually to celebrate “innovative and path-breaking individuals and organisations” making a significant contribution to the bilateral partnership.

 




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