Sadiq Khan: Now London must ‘take back control’

28 June 2016

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, today uses a keynote speech to top business leaders to demand more autonomy for the capital in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

Sadiq Khan's call came as he referenced the petition calling for London to declare independence that has gathered 175,175 signatures since Friday.

He declared: "As much as I might like the idea of a London city state, I'm not seriously talking about independence today. I am not planning to install border points on the M25!

"But on behalf of all Londoners, I am demanding more autonomy for the capital - right now. More autonomy in order to protect London's economy from the uncertainty ahead, to protect the businesses from around the world who trade here and to protect our jobs, wealth and prosperity."

He stressed that he wasn’t “asking for London to get a bigger slice of the British pie”, only for Londoners to “get more control over the slice of the pie we already get.”

He reassured people in the rest of the UK that they will benefit from more devolution for London ”because when London succeeds, the rest of the country succeeds too. And when we fail, the entire nation fails.”

Speaking at The Times CEO Summit, Sadiq Khan urged the Government to “move fast” on devolution, and said “we can't hang around for the outcome of the negotiations before we give Londoners more control”. 

He mentioned the strong support for devolution from the Chancellor George Osborne and Boris Johnson, who established the London Finance Commission report into devolution for London as Mayor.

It is understood that Mayor is looking for the devolution of fiscal responsibility including tax raising powers, as well as more control over business and skills, housing and planning, transport, health and policing and criminal justice.

The Mayor’s call was today backed by business and Government leaders from across London.

Jules Pipe, Chair of London Councils, said: “London Government is speaking with one voice on this issue. We need more power over our own destiny to help cope with the fallout of leaving the EU.”

Baroness Jo Valentine, CEO of London First, said: “The Mayor is right that we must remain part of the single market. London businesses are absolutely clear this is critical to protecting jobs and prosperity, not just in the capital but across the whole of the UK. We also need London to keep the economic engine running by having the levers to drive forward projects such as Crossrail 2, doubling housebuilding and improving skill levels. Where the mayor needs more powers to act, he should be given them.”

Professor Tony Travers from the London School of Economics, said: ““The referendum result is a profound constitutional moment for the UK and there’s no going back now. The London Finance Commission was established and enthusiastically backed by Boris Johnson.  There should be no political block to making devolution to London (and other British cities) happen fast. This is a rare opportunity to reshape our constitution to ensure London has the powers it needs to allow people more direct access to those who make decisions about their city.  Whitehall is remote even to Londoners.  The lesson of last week’s vote is that people want to be listened to.”

Notes to editors

The Mayor’s speech to the Times CEO summit

"Take Back Control"

That's a slogan we've heard a lot over recent months.

"Take back control".

Well I don't know about you, but I don't feel like Britain has more control today, than we did this time last week.

The pound has plummeted and our credit rating has been downgraded.

We went from being the fifth biggest economy in the world to the sixth over the course of a single morning.

We face a long and difficult summer with a lame duck Government drawn from a deeply divided party.

Ironically, the speed of our exit from the EU looks likely to be decided in Brussels, Paris and Berlin, rather than in London.

And right now, CEO's like you are taking huge decisions about British jobs and prosperity in boardrooms from New York to Hong Kong - without giving a single thought to the British Government.

That certainly doesn't feel like taking back control to me.

Now it's no secret that I campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU - alongside many of you in this room.

And I know that others here campaigned vigorously on the other side.

For months, we were a nation divided.

Well we are united again now.

United in our acceptance of the decisive result.

The British people have clearly spoken.

They have expressed their democratic will.

And there can be no going back now.

There can be no middle way.

Britain will leave the European Union.

And over the last few days there has been a lot of criticism and recriminations about both campaigns.

But I don't have any time for those who say that the public were somehow tricked or conned into voting to leave.

Campaigns are tough - as I know better than anyone following the brutal Mayoral election this year.

But you can't blame campaigns for the decisions that the public make.

The British public knew what they were doing when they took this decision.

So the real question now is what next?

I've spent the last few days talking to business leaders like you.

And the message from executives and entrepreneurs could not be more clear.

They believe that the crucial thing now is that Britain must remain part of the European single market.

And I totally agree.

I'm sure that I don't need to tell you why:

500 million customers.

Nearly half of all British exports.

The passporting of our financial services.

The foundation of British jobs, wealth and prosperity.

Remaining in the single market needs to be priority one, two and three of our negotiation with the EU.

And what’s more – I am confident we can achieve this. 

It’s the right thing to do and it’s much more likely than not it will happened – so we should be saying this loud and clear.  

And London - as the beating heart of the UK’s financial sector - and the only region of England which voted to Remain - simply has to have a seat at the negotiations.

I’m glad that David Cameron said yesterday that London will have a voice in this process.  And that voice must be a full seat at the negotiating table. 

And that brings me back to where I started this speech, with that slogan we heard so much during the campaign:

"Take back control"

Because in this new world outside of the European Union.

In which we control our own destiny.

And in which we make our own decisions.

London has to take back control too.

Londoners - who voted for a different path than the rest of England - need more self determination.

We need to control our own destiny.

And we need to make our own decisions too.

In the four days since the referendum, 175,175 Londoners have signed a petition calling for London to become an independent city state.

This petition wasn't started by a politician or pushed by any particular interest group.

It was an organic movement born out of Londoners desire to have more control over their city's future.

Now, as much as I might like the idea of a London city state, I'm not seriously talking about independence today.

I'm not planning to blockade the M25.

But on behalf of all Londoners, I am demanding more autonomy for the capital - right now.

More autonomy in order to protect London's economy from the uncertainty ahead.

More autonomy to protect the businesses from around the world who trade here.

And more autonomy to protect our jobs, wealth and prosperity.

London needs to be able to determine its own future from now on.

Now I'm not asking for London to get a bigger slice of the British pie.

That wouldn't be fair.

All I'm asking is that we get more control over the slice of the pie we already get.

The ability to decide how the money already spent in London is distributed.

And this really isn't about pitting London against the rest of the UK.

Our nation has been too divided over recent months.

Remainers versus leavers.

North versus South.

Old versus young.

London versus the rest of the country.

But now is the time to bring people together and heal our divisions, rather than to divide and make them worse.

Which is why it's crucial that we now make clear that the entire UK will benefit from London getting more autonomy.

Because when London succeeds, the rest of the country succeeds too.

And when we fail, the entire nation fails.

Growth in London creates jobs, wealth and prosperity across the entire country.

So giving London more autonomy will benefit everyone in every part of the United Kingdom.

Greater devolution is the best path towards reuniting our country.

And it shouldn't be hard to move on this.

There is agreement across the board for more devolution.

From George Osborne - who will be speaking here later today - and who has been a real champion for devolution throughout 6 years at the Treasury.

To Boris Johnson, who established the London Finance Commission, and as my predecessor in City Hall championed the need for London to get more control over its own destiny.

But it is now absolutely critical that we move fast.

We can't hang around for the outcome of the negotiations before we give Londoners more control.

It needs to happen now.

So I am here today to ask for your help.

I have created a coalition of people willing to fight for Londoners to get more control.

We're backed by London Councils who represent our local authorities - Labour, Tory and Lib Dem.

And by London First - who represent many big businesses in the capital.

And today I'd like you to ask you all to support us too.

As the Chief Executives and Leaders of businesses big and small, your voice matters.

And I want you to back our plan to give Londoners more control, so that we can ensure that London thrives over the years ahead.

So that we can ensure London remains the best place in the world to do business.

So that we have the powers we need to protect jobs, wealth and prosperity.

So that I can ensure that all Londoners get the opportunities that our city gave to me when I was growing up on a council estate in South London.

And so that the entire UK can benefit from London's continued success.

Thank you.

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