New Mayor, Sadiq Khan’s decision to attend the Irish Post awards is considered a great coup for the newspaper.Mal McNally / Irish Post

Sadiq Khan, the newly elected, first ever Muslim mayor of London, praised the city’s vast Irish population before his election last week, telling The Irish Post newspaper that the Irish helped to “make London great.”

“As someone who was born and bred in London I know just how much we owe the Irish community for the role they’ve played in making London great,” Khan, a member of the Labour Party, told the paper in the days before last Thursday’s election. He handily beat Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative Party candidate, by 14 percentage points.

“Whether it’s the contribution of Irish teachers, nurses and doctors in our schools and hospitals, or the role of Irish entrepreneurs and businesses, we cannot underestimate the difference they make to our city,” said Khan.

“Like many Irish people, my parents came to London to make a better life for themselves. My dad was a bus driver and my mum used to sew clothes to bring in extra money. We didn’t have much, but they were able to save up to buy a house for our family.”

Sadiq Khan photographed with London's Irish newspaper, The Irish Post.

Sadiq Khan photographed with London's Irish newspaper, The Irish Post.

Khan is strongly opposed to Britain leaving the European Union. U.K. citizens will go to the polls on June 23 to vote on the so-called Brexit move.

“If I am successful on May 5, I will campaign for Britain to stay in Europe. London cannot become isolationist. I want to build stronger links with Dublin and Belfast and showcase the innovation of London’s Irish community,” Khan told the Post.

“I’ve met so many Irish entrepreneurs across London, and I want to celebrate their creativity, not cut their businesses off from the European market.”