An Uber representative has claimed City Hall would be “more progressive” towards the car sharing service if the jobs it created were in factories.
Head of European public policy Mark McGann was speaking at a Conservative Party Conference fringe event organised by the European Conservatives & Reformists Group earlier today in the Midland Hotel on the creation of a “digital single market” in the European Union.
In a swipe at leaked City Hall proposals to severely regulate Uber’s operations in the capital – including introducing a minimum five minute wait and banning the practice of letting users know where drivers are – Mr McGann suggested bureaucrats were overlooking the service’s 20,000 London drivers.
He said: “We operate in ten UK cities and there’s about 20,000 people driving full time on the Uber platform – if we built factories and created 20,000 jobs, the people in City Hall would be a bit more progressive in their point of view.”
Chair Timothy Kirkhope MEP also mocked the proposals by joking he was glad Mr McGann was able to arrive on time for the debate and was not forced to wait five minutes before being allowed to enter the room.
Mr McGann added the service expected to have two million Londoners signed up to the service by the time of the mayoral elections in May next year – representing a significant voter bloc with the potential to tip what could be a close contest between Labour’s mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan and newly-voted Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith.
Speaking after the event, Mr McGann said Goldsmith appeared to be on the fence over Uber – in contrast to Khan’s longstanding criticism of the car sharing service – and although Conservatives for Liberty backed Syed Kamall MEP in the contest, we will make every effort to take the case against regulation to our new candidate.
Other issues raised at the event included dealing with stark differences in European nations’ attitudes to Uber – some highly aggressive – with many European laws described by Mr McGann as “not fit for purpose.”
He used the extreme example of a single Spanish judge banning the app overnight and instructing internet providers to block it – meaning Spanish tourists visiting London “could not use a fully licensed service over here.”
Uber is a smartphone app which allows registered drivers to share their cars with users plotting a journey into the app.
It has been criticised by taxi drivers for being “unfairly” competitive against the highly-regulated taxi industry and by workers’ rights organised for supposed exploitation.