Zac Goldsmith The Conservative candidate to become the next Mayor of London has accused Labour’s candidate of playing the race card during the political campaign.
Sources on the Khan campaign had described Mr Goldsmith’s messaging as a possible “coded racist attack” designed to refer to the Labour candidate’s Islamic faith.
“I think he is playing with fire, I don’t think there is anything more divisive than playing the race card when clearly, unambiguously that does not apply,” Mr Goldsmith told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“It’s very obvious what I was referring to when I described him as a ‘radical candidate’ as part of a radical process that has enveloped the Labour party and taken our politics in an extraordinary direction.”
The term “radical” is regularly used by the Government when referring to Islamic extremism, however.
The Tories have also set up a website called “Sadiq Watch” where negative stories about Mr Khan are posted. The website does not refer to itself as being run by the party except in small, legally mandatory text at the bottom of the page.
London’s Mayoral Elections are due to be held on 6 May this year. Opinion polls conducted by pollster YouGov of the contest at a very early stage show Mr Khan with a small lead over Mr Goldsmith.
Large numbers of voters are still undecided at this stage, however.
The current Mayor of London Boris Johnson is stepping down from his position, having been elected as an MP in May 2015.
Mr Khan and Mr Goldsmith are joined in the contest by Sian Berry, the Green Party candidate, Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat candidate, and Peter Whittle, the Ukip candidate.
Former MP George Galloway also intends to stand as the candidate for the Respect party.