Mayor to reassure ambassadors that EU nationals will always be welcome
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will today hold a roundtable for ambassadors from across the continent to reassure them that EU nationals who live in the capital will always be welcome.
London is home to around one million EU nationals, who make a huge contribution to the city - working hard, paying taxes and playing a major role in civic and cultural life.
The Mayor will today tell ambassadors and senior dignitaries representing the 10 European Union countries with the largest number of nationals living in London that they will continue to play a valuable role in the city.
He will also reassure ambassadors that, following the rise in reports of racist or xenophobic abuse in the capital since the EU referendum, he will not tolerate hate crimes of any form, anywhere in London.
And he will underline his warning to Theresa May, the incoming Prime Minister, that she must not use the status of EU citizens in Britain as a bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations.
“You cannot play politics with people's lives,” Sadiq Khan will say.
Sadiq Khan said:
“I’ve invited European Ambassadors based here in London to City Hall to send a crystal-clear message that all EU citizens living in London - who make a huge contribution to our city - are very welcome here.
“It is simply not good enough to leave EU citizens in London in limbo. The irresponsible position taken by some politicians has caused unnecessary uncertainty and anxiety amongst communities in London.
“You cannot play politics with people's lives.
“London is still a decent and open-minded city and we will not stand for millions of Londoners being used as a bargaining tool.
“I’m calling on Theresa May to say very clearly now that she will guarantee that EU citizens who were living here before the referendum can remain.
“We must remember that we are talking about many mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers of British children born and growing up in London. They are our neighbours, colleagues and fellow Londoners - valued members of our local communities who make a vital contribution to our civil and cultural life. They deserve better.
“I also want to reassure European Ambassadors that we are doing everything we can to stamp out the shocking rise in hate crime over the last few weeks. I’ve agreed with the police that we will have a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime and the full force of the law will be used to catch and punish any perpetrators.”
Enrique Ojeda, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of Spain, said:
“We welcome the Mayor’s initiative and will fully cooperate with him and all the national, regional and local authorities to ensure that no xenophobic actions are allowed. London is a great city and thousands of Spaniards work or study here, being part of its vibrant community. They feel at home and that is how it should remain. Their well-being is a priority for the Spanish Embassy, and that’s why we are very grateful to the Mayor of London.”
Dariusz Łaska, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Poland, said:
“We were shocked by the recent incidents of xenophobic abuse directed against the Polish community and other EU nationals. The Embassy treats all such cases very seriously and appreciates the response of local authorities and police across the country to tackle the problem.
“We welcome the Mayor’s pledge to combat and prevent hate crime as well as to campaign for the right to remain for all EU nationals, including the 200,000 Poles who live and work in the capital. London has a very special place in every Pole’s heart. It was the refuge of the Polish Government-in-Exile and free Poles for 50 years – during the Second World War and in the time of communism. The Polish community is a mixture of the descendants of those wartime and anti-communist exiles and those who decided to move to Britain after Poland joined the EU, who all equally contribute to the capital’s culture, society, and indeed economy.”
Pasquale Q. Terracciano, Ambassador of Italy:
"I welcome this initiative of the Mayor of London. Around 350,000 Italians live and work in London, contributing to the prosperity of this city. It is important to reassure those who have created a life for themselves and their families here that they are welcome to stay, and their right will be never be put into question.”
Sylvie Bermann, Ambassador of France, said:
“I am grateful to the Mayor of London for signalling the very important contribution of European citizens to London, a contribution which would be very hard to replace.”
Notes to editors
Attendees at today’s meeting:
Mr Konstantin Dmitrov, Ambassador of Bulgaria
Mrs Sylvie Bermann, Ambassador of France
Dr Peter Ammon, Ambassador of Germany
Ms Barbara Cullinane, Deputy Ambassador of Ireland
Mr Pasquale Q. Terracciano, Ambassador of Italy
Mrs Asta Skaisgirytė Laiuškienė, Amb. of Lithuania
Mr Dariusz Łaska, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Poland
Mr João de Vallera, Ambassador of Portugal
Mr Dan Mihalache, Ambassador of Romania
Mr Enrique Ojeda, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of Spain