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OPINION - Twelve things I bet you didn’t know about Sadiq Khan

Sadiq Khan has written a book, Breathe  (London Assembly YouTube channel)
Sadiq Khan has written a book, Breathe (London Assembly YouTube channel)

Contrary to expectations, Sadiq Khan’s book, Breathe, is quite the page-turner.

Part memoir, part justification for his anti-pollution policies (such as the Ulez), it includes the revelation that he probably had a “minor heart attack” at a COP26 meeting 18 months ago.

But what else do we learn about the Mayor? Here are a dozen choice nuggets:

1) He plans to replace the Ulez and congestion charge with a “more comprehensive road-user charging system, by the end of the decade at the latest”.

2) When he was a lawyer, he drove a “huge, gas-guzzling” Land Rover Discovery.

3) As children, he and his brother Tariq would play on their dad’s (No 44) bus — sitting on the front seat upstairs pretending to drive, and peering through the “periscope” at their father below.

4) He is unable to drink cold milk to this day after downing four pints in two minutes to win a childhood competition with his brothers.

5) He knew London “was going to be the focus of my career” after then Labour leader Ed Miliband appointed him shadow Minister for London in 2013. By 2014, he wanted to become Labour’s mayoral candidate.

6) He ignored aides and shook hands with Extinction Rebellion activists invited to City Hall — despite fears they would Superglue themselves to him.

7) One of his “biggest mistakes” in the 2016 mayoral campaign “was saying in interviews and on my website that I would plant two million trees by 2020” — it was “impossible to deliver”.

8) Lockdown took a toll on his mental health. He stopped shaving and would wear “worn-out old T-shirts” and a grey tracksuit. His wife Saadiya said he “dressed like a prison inmate”.

9) After buying an electric Brompton bike, he became a Mamil — a “middle-aged man in linen (suit)”.

10) It was a “big mistake” to propose a Greater London “boundary charge”. The policy — since scrapped — was dubbed “Checkpoint Chigwell” by Tory MP Paul Scully, which irritated him further because it was “quite funny”.

11) On election day in 2021, it was a “good omen” when a doughnut featuring his face outsold those featuring his rivals at Dunns bakery in Crouch End.

12) At COP26 in Glasgow, he met Leonardo DiCaprio at a party and tried a joke: “’I would have shared that life raft with you, Leo.’ He didn’t laugh.”