MQT full chamber

Assembly votes to stay in the EU

22 February 2016

The London Assembly today approved an urgent motion to remain in the EU.

Assembly Members welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to campaign to remain in and confirmed their belief that both London and the UK are better off in the EU.

Len Duvall AM, who proposed the urgent motion, said:

“Membership of the EU is incredibly important for London’s economic growth and employment prospects. We need the Mayor to take seriously the concerns of organisations like London First and the City who have warned that London would be diminished outside the EU, and that the result could be billions of pounds and tens of thousands of jobs wiped off the capital’s books.

“From action to tackle air pollution, to the fight against terrorism, our membership of the EU brings vast benefits. Of course the EU is not perfect, but that shouldn’t mean that we turn our back and run into the unknown, that could be a disaster.”

Darren Johnson AM, who jointly seconded the urgent motion, said:

“The nation state is too big for some things and too small for others. It’s why I’m passionate about both devolution and about the UK’s continuing EU membership. Issues like air quality and workers’ rights need strong protection at the European level.”

Stephen Knight AM, who jointly seconded the urgent motion, said:

"London is the de facto capital of Europe and its economy hugely benefits from EU membership in increased trade and investment as well as the free movement of people that enables London to be an international city.

“The EU is also driving forward vital environmental improvements, especially in air quality. By being a member of the EU London has benefitted from very low borrowing costs for vital infrastructure projects such as Crossrail and upgrades to the Tube.

“Anyone who really wants to put the interests of London first would recognise that it would be foolish in the extreme to walk away from these immense benefits of EU membership.”

 

The full text of the Motion is:

This Assembly notes the reforms negotiated by the Prime Minister as part of his drive for Britain to remain in a reformed European Union. This Assembly welcomes the Prime Minister’s decision to campaign to remain in the EU. We believe that both London and the UK are better off in the EU.

The Assembly notes the following benefits to London of EU membership:

Economic Prosperity: In 2014 London exported £12.3 billion of goods to the EU (nearly 43% of all London’s exports of goods) in the same year we imported £27.6 billion of products from the EU (40.4% of all the capitals imported goods)[3]. Meanwhile analysis conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) for London First says that EU membership could add £13.9bn to London’s Economy by 2030 providing a “permanent boost” to the capital’s economy[4].

London and the EU are economically intertwined. Putting up a barrier between us and the world’s biggest free market would be financially devastating.

Jobs and Employment: 542,000 jobs in London were associated with the EU in 2011[5]. Whilst these jobs would not be guaranteed to go post-Brexit, they would be far less secure if our major trading partner was less favourably accessible. HSBC alone have warned that around 1,000 jobs would move over the Channel if Britain were to exit the EU[6]. We must also recognise the improved rights and protections that EU membership has given British workers, from maternity and paternity leave to paid holidays, protections for agency workers and laws against discrimination.

Environment: Tackling and adapting to climate change is one of the most serious challenges facing London this century. It’s only through working with our European partners that we can ever hope to bring down carbon emissions and create a more sustainable way of living. European directives have driven progress in tackling some of London’s biggest environmental challenge from toxic air, to waste and recycling and combating climate change.

Safety and Security:  The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has stated that the European Union is vital in the fight against international terrorism and that “jihadists threatening Britain cannot be defeated by acting in isolation”[7].

Britain’s membership means working in partnership with other EU nations, gathering and sharing intelligence that assists with identifying and preventing terrorist threats.  Andrew Park (head of MI5) stated that MI5 and its international partners had thwarted 6 terrorist threats in the UK and several plots overseas. Without this international collaboration and partnership Britain leaves itself vulnerable at a time of significant threats to its safety[8].

Our membership of the European Arrest Warrant gives Britain an extra layer of security for our citizens. The loss of the EAW would be a significant blow to the scope and capability of the Criminal Justice System.

While this Assembly believes that the EU needs reform and improvement, a blanket exit isn’t the answer for London or for Britain. In terms of security, environment, finance and economy we are inextricably intertwined with our neighbours.  To get the best deal for London we need to be at the table.

Notes to editors

  1. Watch the full webcast.
  2. The urgent motion was agreed by 14 votes for and 7 against.
  3. UK jobs supported by exports to the EU Cebr analysis of UK jobs associated with demand from the European Union, March 2014.
  4. EU referendum: Pro-European Union group says Brexit would cost London £13.9bn, CityAM, 8 February 2016.
  5. UK jobs supported by exports to the EU Cebr analysis of UK jobs associated with demand from the European Union, March 2014.
  6. HSBC could switch 1,000 banking jobs to France after a Brexit vote, The Guardian, 15th February 2016.
  7. Theresa May indicates EU is vital for fight against terrorism as she warns against 'isolation', The Telegraph, 16th Feb 2016.
  8. Terror threat to UK is greater than any point in career, says MI5 chief, The Guardian, 29th October 2015.
  9. Len Duvall AM who proposed the motion is available for interviews. Please see contact details below. 
  10. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Alison Bell on 020 7983 4228.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officerNon-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.