LONDON: Capital of England was on course to become the first EU capital with a Pakistani origin mayor as voters went to the polls Thursday following a bitter campaign that stayed ugly to the very end.
Labour party’s Sadiq Khan, the son of a bus driver from Pakistan, voted early in his constituency of Tooting in south London.
His main rival, environmentalist Zac Goldsmith, brother of Jemima Khan, ex-wife of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s chairman Imran Khan cast his ballot in the posh Richmond neighborhood west of the city center.
The vote is seen as the first major electoral test for opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose party has been riven by infighting over allegations of Antisemitism.
The results of the regional elections that are also being held in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will likely set the tone for the final seven weeks of campaigning ahead of Britain’s June 23 EU membership referendum.
In the Scottish Parliament, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s pro-independence party is looking to tighten its hold on power as it seeks to build support for a second vote on seceding from the UK following a failed referendum on the issue in 2014.
If Britain as a whole votes to leave the European Union but Scotland votes to stay in, Sturgeon says that would be a pretext for her Scottish National Party to demand another independence referendum