"The current mayor of London had effectively bankrupted TfL before coronavirus had even hit and left a massive black hole in its finances.”

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister's Questions

October 21, 2020

Facts

Boris Johnson told the House of Commons during PMQs that London mayor Sadiq Khan “had effectively bankrupted TfL before coronavirus had even hit and left a massive black hole in its finances.” 

Sadiq Khan disputed these claims and said: “It gives me no pleasure in saying so, but our Prime Minister today, on the floor of the House of Commons has lied.” 

Although Khan did impose a fare freeze, this freeze cost TfL around £640m over four years - a sum dwarfed by the estimated pandemic-related £1.9bn drop in passenger income expected at the time Mr Johnson made his remarks. 

A report from the London Assembly showed that TfL had made almost £1bn of savings across the organisation and prior to the pandemic was on track to reduce its like-for-like operating deficit for the fourth consecutive year (down 86% compared to 2015/16), and built up cash reserves of more than £2bn (up by 31% compared to 2015/16). According to a BBC report, TfL’s deficit had fallen by 71% since 2016. 

Verdict 

The Prime Minister’s statement about TfL was misleading. It remains on the House of Commons record in defiance of the Ministerial Code.

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