Childhood & Early Life
Sadiq Khan was born on October 8, 1970 at St George's Hospital in Tooting, South London, as the fifth of the eight children of Sehrun Khan and Amanullah Khan. His father was a bus driver for over 25 years while his mother was a seamstress.
His parents were among the hundreds of thousands of Muslim families who went to Pakistan from India after the partition of 1947. In the 1960s, they moved to Britain where all their children, including Sadiq, were born.
He has one sister and six brothers. They grew up together in a working-class Sunni Muslim family living out of a three-bedroom council flat on the Henry Prince Estate in Earlsfield. Sadiq began his education at Fircroft Primary School, in the London Borough of Wandsworth and later attended Ernest Bevin School, a local comprehensive school.
Initially, he wanted to be a dentist and studied mathematics and science at A-level. However, noticing his argumentative personality, a teacher suggested that he should study law. That suggestion, along with the NBC’s legal drama ‘L.A. Law’, of which Khan was a fan, inspired him to pursue a career in law.
He enrolled at the University of North London (now London Metropolitan University) to study law. In 1991, he graduated and subsequently passed the Law Society finals, which was held at the College of Law in Guildford.
Deeply influenced by his parents’ rigorous work ethic, Khan started working when he was very young. He used to deliver newspapers as well as had a Saturday job. He even found work at construction sites during some summers.
He loved sports, especially football, cricket, and boxing, and later he and his brothers took up boxing. During his college years, he supported himself with a Saturday job at the Peter Jones department store in Sloane Square.
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Career as a Solicitor
In 1994, Khan joined Christian Fisher, a soliciting firm based in London, as a trainee solicitor. They predominantly handled legal aid cases. At the time, the partners were Michael Fisher and Louise Christian.
Within only three years, in 1997, Khan was also made a partner in the firm. Fisher quit the firm in 2002, and Khan and Christian, both of whom were human rights solicitors, rebranded it as Christian Khan. He eventually quit the firm two years later, in 2004.
As a solicitor, most of the cases he dealt with involved employment and discrimination law, inquests, judicial reviews, the police, and crime.
Early Political Career
Sadiq Khan became involved in politics sometime in the early 1990s. By 1994, he had become a prominent figure in the regional politics. That year, he was selected as a Councillor for the London Borough of Wandsworth and would serve in the position until 2006. When he retired from the local political scene, he received the title of Honorary Alderman of Wandsworth.
In 2003, the Tooting Constituency Labour Party made the decision to let any candidate contest for its parliamentary selection, including Tom Cox, the incumbent Member of Parliament. Cox decided to resign from his position rather than face de-selection.
Khan was subsequently elected over his five opponents to be the Labour Party candidate in the 2005 general election. He went on to win the election and become the new MP from Tooting.
Khan garnered some controversies in the early years of his political career. The Sunday Times reported on February 3, 2008, that Khan met prisoner Babar Ahmad, one of his constituents who later would be convicted of terrorist activities, and their conversation was heard by the Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorist Branch as the room was bugged.
Subsequently, an enquiry was conducted in order to find out if the Wilson Doctrine, a convention that restricts police from bugging MPs, was breached. The enquiry ultimately reported that there wasn’t any breach.
After Tony Blair resigned from his positions as the Prime Minister and the Labour Party leader in June 2007, Gordon Brown replaced him. Khan had a great relationship with Brown, under whose premiership he had a rapid rise through the parliamentary ranks.
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Brown used Khan as the party whip, whose main job was to ensure the passing of Labour-sponsored legislations in the parliament so they could become law.
On October 3, 2008, Prime Minister Brown appointed Khan as his new Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. About eight months later, in June 2009, he received the State for Transport portfolio.
Khan was apparently the first minister in British history to announce his promotion on Twitter. Despite not being a member of the cabinet, he was often present in the meetings for agenda items that involved transport, effectively becoming the first Muslim to be on the British cabinet.
Khan chose not to accept a pay rise as an MP in 2009 and also in 2010, stating that he did not think it would be appropriate to accept a pay rise at a time when many people in his constituency and throughout the UK were having to accept pay freezes.
In 2010, he successfully campaigned for a second term as the MP for Tooting. In April 2010, the news of Khan falsifying claims of expenses on two separate occasions came out. In response, Khan said that they occurred due to his inexperience and human error and issued an apology for breaking the expense rules.
Following the Labour Party’s defeat in the 2010 election, Khan was appointed as the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport. He helped Ed Miliband become the leader of the Labour Party in 2010 and was later made the Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Justice Secretary.
Khan was elected for a third term as MP in the 2015 general election, despite the overall defeat of his party. While he was one of the 36 Labour MPs who nominated Jeremy Corbyn as a possible leader of the Labour Party in 2015, he later revealed that he did not vote for Corbyn.
Following the 2015 general election, Khan quit the Shadow Cabinet and made his intention to run for the London Mayoral office public. His rivals for the Labour candidacy were Diane Abbott, Christian Wolmar, Gareth Thomas, David Lammy, and Tessa Jowell, with Jowell being his biggest competition.
Khan garnered the support of Labour's leftist, socialist wing, Labour-affiliated GMB and Unite unions, and the Blairite wing. He also gained the nomination of 44 of Labour's 73 parliamentary constituent parties in London. In September 2015, Khan won the nomination by receiving 48,152 votes (58.9%) against Jowell's 35,573 (41.1%).
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Khan’s main rival in the 2016 mayoral election was the Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith. Khan realised quite early in the campaign that many voters were uncomfortable about voting for a Muslim mayor and decided to confront the issue directly.
He denounced Islamic extremism and voiced his opposition to homophobia and anti-Semitism. He also distanced himself from Corbyn for his association with anti-Israel groups and was worried that Corbyn’s socialist views would alienate London’s business class.
The election was held on May 5, 2016, and Khan received 56.8% of the vote share in the final round against Goldsmith’s 43.2%. His official swearing-in ceremony took place on 7 May.
On 9 May, he formally resigned from his position as the MP for Tooting, by taking over the ancient office of Crown Steward and Bailiff of The Three Chiltern Hundreds. It resulted in a by-election in Tooting in June 2016.
Mayor of London
In the weeks leading up to the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, Sadiq Khan was one of the most prominent supporters of the Remain camp. He was present at a Britain Stronger in Europe campaign event along with the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to display the cross-party collaboration on the issue.
After Britain voted to leave the EU, Khan stated that all the EU citizens were still welcome in London and that he was grateful for all their contribution to the city.
He actively sought to maintain his image as a progressive mayor. He attended the 2016 LGBT Pride festival in London and attempted to “break down the mystique and suspicion” surrounding Islam by reaching out to non-Islamic residents of London during Ramadan.
He launched several progressive transport and housing policies and claimed that air pollution was “the biggest public health emergency of a generation”.
Since he has assumed the mayoral role, knife crime in London has turned into an epidemic. Acknowledging this, he has partly accepted the responsibility as the Police and Crime Commissioner for the city but has put most of the blame on the budgetary cuts by the government.
Sadiq Khan married fellow solicitor Saadiya Ahmed in 1994. They have two daughters together: Anisah (born 1999) and Ammarah (2001). A devout Muslim, Khan has raised both his daughters in the faith.
He is known to fast during Ramadan and often visits the Al-Muzzammil Mosque in Tooting. British liberal media has characterized him as “a moderate, socially liberal Muslim”.
Khan has published three books to date. In 2008, his first book, ‘Fairness Not Favours’, was published through The Fabian Society. He followed it up by releasing his second book, ‘Punishment and Reform’. Later, he put out ‘Our London’.