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Sadiq Khan faces anxious wait for London mayoral result

Sadiq Khan faces an anxious wait to find out whether he will be re-elected London mayor amid fears over low turnout and anger over his flagship car policy and Labour’s stance on Gaza.

Khan remains the favorite to win against his Conservative opponent Susan Hall when the results are revealed on Saturday.

But with just two hours to go before voting closed on Thursday night, he launched an impassioned plea on social media warning that “a low number of people voting” meant the “real risk” of a Conservative victory.

The Labor Party has significantly stepped up its campaign against Ms Hall in recent days.

She only became her party’s candidate after her first choice, Daniel Korski, was forced to withdraw amid accusations of groping.

But she has been criticized for joining a Facebook group that contained Islamophobic hate speech and abusive comments about her opponent.

Sayeeda Warsi, a former Conservative cabinet minister, accused her of “corrupt politics” in her controversial campaign.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said a victory for her would be for “racists, white supremacists and Islamophobes around the world”.

Her stance was defended by former Labor MP and former Europe minister Denis MacShane who, when asked if Hall was a white supremacist, said “it’s pretty close”.

But MacShane added that he had been surprised by the city’s hostility towards Khan over his controversial policy of charging for the most polluting cars, the Ulez (ultra-low emissions zone).

A new poll, conducted by More in Common for the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), found that 13 percent of voters said Ulez was a big issue in this election, compared to 45 percent who selected affordable housing and 36 percent that crime mentioned.

However, conservative experts believe that with low turnout, frustrated motorists would have been more likely to vote.

In Friday’s local election results, Labor saw a drop in support in some areas with large Muslim populations, while the party’s election co-ordinator, Pat McFadden, admitted the impact of the war in Gaza was “a problem in some parts of the country and I think there is no point in me… denying that that is the case.”

However, pollster and fellow Conservative Robert Hayward has predicted that Khan is likely to avoid a backlash over Gaza, after he broke ranks early in the conflict to call for a ceasefire.

Adding to Labor nerves, a poll on Wednesday showed Khan’s lead over Hall had narrowed to its smallest level since the campaign began.

The Savanta poll put the Labor mayor on 42 per cent and his Conservative rival on 32 per cent.

Rule changes for this election mean Khan’s vote cannot be “topped up” with second preference votes, which helped him win by a wide margin last time.

Counting will not begin until Saturday, after Friday was set aside for verifying ballots.