Sadiq Khan has said that further devolution is “integral to the future of our country” as he seeks greater powers as mayor if re-elected on May 6.

In his re-election manifesto, the current Mayor of London has called on the Government to give him additional powers, including the power to set business rates in London as well the ability to impose rent controls.

But Mr Khan has also said that further devolution elsewhere would lead to “wealth and prosperity for all the country” and has said that nationwide local elections on May 6 should serve as a “referendum on devolution”.

Speaking exclusively to the Local Democracy Reporting Service today, Mr Khan said that he wants the Conservative Government to “keep the promise” in the party’s 2019 manifesto to grant devolved powers to cities and regions across the country.

Mr Khan said: “When the majority of our country voted to leave the European Union – Brexit – it was ostensibly to ‘take back control’. That didn’t mean Whitehall civil servants and politicians in Parliament hoarding all the powers. It meant the powers being dispersed around the country, and that’s what devolution is about.

“We’ve got to make sure that this Government, Boris Johnson, keeps the promise in his manifesto because the reality is, whether it’s me in City Hall, whether it’s the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham or in the West Midlands Andy Street, or in Liverpool Steve Rotherham, or elsewhere across the country, those of us who are closer to our communities know our communities far better than politicians in Whitehall can ever do.”

The Labour mayor made reference to London’s global competitors, pointing out that the Mayor of New York gets to spend 50 per cent of taxes raised in New York and that in Tokyo, it is 70 per cent.

“In London, it’s seven per cent. Seven versus 50 versus 70,” he said.

He added: “The more control we have over our powers and resources, the more we’re in charge of our destiny. But also, we’d be more accountable to the electorate.”

Asked how he would make the case to Government for greater devolved powers, Mr Khan said that there would be lessons for it to learn from the “awful” Covid-19 pandemic and that a public inquiry may even recommend devolution.

He said: “One of the lessons we’re going to learn from this awful pandemic is that centralisation has been one of the reasons why the Government has failed to swiftly enough deal with the consequences of the pandemic, both in terms of health of individuals and the health of our economy. And devolution would have been one way to have less worse results and may be one of the recommendations that comes out of a public inquiry.”

He went on to say that he would continue to make the case that “you can’t have a national recovery without a London recovery” and that “it’s in everyone’s interest around the country for London to do well”.

Mr Khan said that the Government had a choice if it wanted to make the country more equal: to “make London poorer so we are more equal as a country” or “to devolve powers and resources to all parts of the country, including London”.

“The latter leads to wealth and prosperity for all the country. The former is cutting your nose off to spite your face,” he said.

With recent opinion polls showing increasing public support for devolution, Mr Khan said that “the public are on side” with the idea.

He said: “They are not happy with the status quo, and the issue is the Government keeping the promise they made in their manifesto in 2019, to devolve more powers to cities and regions.”

A recent opinion poll from Redfield and Wilton found that 35 per cent of Londoners were in favour of the Mayor of London getting more devolved powers from Government.

Meanwhile, recent polling from Savanta ComRes and the Centre for Cities found that an increasing number of Londoners thought the Mayor of London should be given more direct power over things like housing and support for businesses.

Paraphrasing former Mayor of Denver Wellington Webb, Mr Khan said: “If the 19th Century was the century of empires and the 20th Century the century of nation states, the 21st Century is about cities and mayors. I think the Government has got to wake up and smell the coffee.”