Theresa May: ‘Disproportionate’ Uber ban has ‘damaged lives’

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Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, stated that the decision of Transport for London to stop the operations of Uber in the capital has “damaged lives” and proclaimed the ban “disproportionate”.

TfL rejected the application of Uber to renew its licence to operate in London last Friday, completely banning it from running its business in the city.

TfL mentioned a string of shortcomings which it said meant Uber was not “fit and proper” to hold the licence, accusing Uber of “a lack of corporate responsibility in connection to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications”.

The said decision was supported by Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London who said the anger of Londoners’ “should be directed at Uber”. Mr Khan is also TfL’s.

During an interview with BBC London ahead of next week’s Conservative Party conference, Mrs May said “what the mayor has done is risked 40,000 jobs and of course… damaged the lives of those 3.5 million Uber users.

“Yes there are safety concerns and issues for Uber to address, but what I want to see is a level playing field between the private firms and our wonderful London taxis, our black cabs”.

The Prime Minister stated the “blanket ban is disproportionate”, adding: “What I think people want to see is choice.”

In response, a spokesperson for Mr Khan stated: “Regulation is there for a reason and it would have been wrong for TfL to have renewed Uber’s licence if they had concerns about Uber being a fit and proper operator.

“All companies must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect – particularly when it comes to the safety of customers.”

The comments echo those of other Conservative MPs, including the MP for Wantage and Didcot,  Ed Vaizey, who last week called the move “catastrophic”, and Matt Warman who, writing in The Daily Telegraph, said that it was “damaging in the extreme”.

A petition to reverse the decision by TfL had reached more 800,000 signatures at the time of writing, making it the fastest growing UK petition in 2017.

About 40,000 licensed Uber drivers are facing unemployment in the face of the move of TfL not to renew the licence, which will expire on September 30.

However, Uber is appealing the decision and will operate in London during the appeal, which is anticipated to take months.