For sale signs go up outside a house in London. Photo: Getty Images
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Solving the housing crisis will be at the heart of my mayoralty

The single biggest thing that Londoners need from their next Mayor: a solution to the housing crisis.

The London I grew up in was full of communities made up of families and friends who had lived on the same streets and in the same area for years. The social benefits of that sense of community were there for all to see - the neighbour who would keep an eye on your house, a relative who could step in for a bit of emergency child minding, or the friend you went through primary and secondary school with celebrating the birth of your first child. It was London at its best.

Today much of that community has been lost. The main reason for that has been the lack of enough new and affordable homes. It is the single biggest thing that Londoners need from their next Mayor: a solution to the housing crisis.

That's why I'm running for Mayor - because I believe I am the best candidate to build the homes Londoners need.

There is no silver bullet on housing. Fixing the crisis will require us to roll up our sleeves every day, and get on with the hands-on work of bringing forward land, getting developments approved and then getting on with building them. I have a comprehensive plan to do just that.

I will lead a new London Homes Team at City Hall. I don't want to waste time creating a new external organisation. I will start putting this team in place from day one and they will report directly to my desk. They will work around the clock on getting London building. They will bring forward developments on land controlled by the Mayor - from finding the land, sourcing the funding to planning and developing. And crucially, they will work with town halls to help them develop their own new homes teams, and to bring forward land and investment for building. They will be an in-house dedicated development team, working with councils, housing associations and business in order to build more homes for Londoners.

Firstly they will get on with sorting out financing – new homes need money to build them. It is an obscenity, with the housing crisis London faces, that the present mayor is sitting on a £400 million underspend in his affordable housing budget not being used for Londoners. So the first thing I will do is get that money working for Londoners - working with councils, developers and housing associations to get more social homes built. I will develop a new 'London Home Bond', to bring in much needed private investment and will fight for greater financial devolution to do this on a grand scale. I will also work with pension funds to develop products that attract them to invest in housing. Meanwhile, I will fight for freedom for Councils to invest more in new social and affordable homes. 

But there is no point in building new homes if they are not available to Londoners. As Mayor, I will use all my powers and investment to put Londoners first when it comes to hosing. I will reinstate a 50% target for genuinely affordable homes, putting Londoners needs ahead of massive windfalls for landowners and developers. I will use planning powers to prevent 'buy-to-leave' investors buying homes just to leave them empty, and ensure local tenants and first-time buyers are offered first refusal on new homes.

And while we build the homes we need, I will do everything I can to protect Londoners renting in the private sector. I'll introduce a new 'London Living Rent' model of intermediate housing - linking rents to a third of income. I'll create a London-wide social letting agency, building on the brilliant work of London Councils and I'll push the Government to give the Mayor the power to freeze rents in the private sector. 

This Tory Government are planning a toxic mix of policies that will make the housing crisis many times worse. They want to reduce the benefit cap in London even further and sell off housing association homes. Together these policies will exacerbate the crisis and rip London's communities apart. I will work with politicians from all parties, businesses and community leaders to stop this from happening. 

Fixing the housing crisis really is the greatest challenge facing my generation in London. We can only do it if we work together - changing London for the better, together. But if we are to succeed, we need a hands-on Mayor, willing to role up their sleeves and get on with the hard graft of building the homes we need.

Sadiq Khan is MP for Tooting, shadow justice secretary and shadow minister for London.
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The Brexit elite want to make trade great again – but there’s a catch

The most likely trade partners will want something in return. And it could be awkward. 

Make trade great again! That's an often overlooked priority of Britain's Brexit elite, who believe that by freeing the United Kingdom from the desiccated hand of the European bureaucracy they can strike trade deals with the rest of the world.

That's why Liam Fox, the Trade Secretary, is feeling particularly proud of himself this morning, and has written an article for the Telegraph about all the deals that he is doing the preparatory work for. "Britain embarks on trade crusade" is that paper's splash.

The informal talks involve Norway, New Zealand, and the Gulf Cooperation Council, a political and economic alliance of Middle Eastern countries, including Kuwait, the UAE and our friends the Saudis.

Elsewhere, much symbolic importance has been added to a quick deal with the United States, with Theresa May saying that we were "front of the queue" with President-Elect Donald Trump in her speech this week. 

As far as Trump is concerned, the incoming administration seems to see it differently: Wilbur Ross, his Commerce Secretary, yesterday told Congress that the first priority is to re-negotiate the Nafta deal with their nearest neighbours, Canada and Mexico.

In terms of judging whether or not Brexit is a success or not, let's be clear: if the metric for success is striking a trade deal with a Trump administration that believes that every trade deal the United States has struck has been too good on the other party to the deal, Brexit will be a failure.

There is much more potential for a genuine post-Brexit deal with the other nations of the English-speaking world. But there's something to watch here, too: there is plenty of scope for trade deals with the emerging powers in the Brics - Brazil, India, etc. etc.

But what there isn't is scope for a deal that won't involve the handing out of many more visas to those countries, particularly India, than we do currently.

Downing Street sees the success of Brexit on hinging on trade and immigration. But political success on the latter may hobble any hope of making a decent go of the former. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.