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Londoners in quandary over loss of Uber

A photo illustration shows a London taxi passing as the Uber app logo is displayed on a mobile telephone, as it is held up for a posed photograph in central London on Friday. (REUTERS)
LONDON: Unperturbed by a Brexit-battered economy, a tumbling pound or the pervasive threat of terror, it has taken the loss of a cab app to push Londoners over the edge.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, urged people on Saturday to direct their anger at Uber following a decision by transport chiefs to strip the company of its license to operate in the capital.
The mayor was forced to issue a statement following a groundswell of anger over a decision by Transport for London (TfL) to not renew Uber’s license when it expires at the end of the month because of a lack of corporate responsibility.
By Saturday morning, more than 500,000 people had signed a petition, started by Uber, to reverse the decision.
“I have every sympathy with Uber drivers and customers affected by this decision but their anger really should be directed at Uber,” said the mayor in a statement. “They have let down their drivers and customers by failing, in the view of TfL, to act as a fit and proper operator.”
Much like Brexit, Uber has sharply divided opinion in the capital with many lamenting the loss of their preferred mode of transport around the city’s congested streets while others highlight the company’s treatment of its drivers as well as a number of attacks by drivers on customers.
Others appear conflicted by relying so heavily on a service that has been blamed for impoverishing its drivers.
Despite half a million people signing a petition to reverse the TfL decision, many commentators on social media supported the move.
“I think there was a similar petition in the 1800s to keep London’s child chimney sweeps,” quipped writer Harry Leslie Smith.
“Why are people petitioning to keep Uber rather than petitioning to make Uber abide safely by the rules?” tweeted Sky Sports presenter Kelly Cates.
But others highlighted the impact the move would have on hard-working and low-paid drivers.
“40k jobs on the line. Really upsetting. 99% of drivers are decent people,” tweeted YouTube personality Caspar Lee.
While Uber’s existing license expires on Sept. 30, the company will get a stay of execution to allow it to appeal the decision.
“Uber’s current license does not expire until the end of September so the service will continue until then. The company can also continue to operate until the appeals process has been exhausted,” said the mayor.