MQT on 2017-09-14
Session date: 
September 14, 2017
Question By: 
Fiona Twycross
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Is the Government listening to London's concerns about Brexit?

Supplementary Questions: 


Answer for Brexit

Answer for Brexit

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you for your question.  In my response to the Government’s Brexit White Paper back in March, I highlighted the risk of the Prime Minister’s extreme hard Brexit approach, I stressed the importance of transitional arrangements and I continue my fight for the rights of European Union (EU) nationals in the United Kingdom (UK) to be guaranteed.  I note the comments of the Deputy Chairman at the start of the meeting.


We are now winning the debates on these issues but the Government’s progress especially in agreeing the rights of EU nationals, over 1 million of whom are Londoners, is frustratingly slow.  I thank the London Assembly’s EU Exit Working Group for their recent letter on this issue.  I could not agree more that EU citizens deserve certainty and a simple process for establishing their status.  I have called on the Government to recognise the right to permanent residence of all EU nationals in the UK.


The recently leaked document on future immigration options for EU nationals is also concerning.  By suggesting tough restrictions on businesses and individuals, the Government risks undermining the negotiations and risking their ambition of privileged access to the single market.


Alongside meetings with senior members of the Cabinet, I meet regularly with David Davis [MP], Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, to press the needs of London’s key sectors within the negotiations.  I believe he understands our concerns and the concerns of business, but it is time that the Government started to reflect these in their negotiating stance.  It is vastly important that the final deal between the UK and the EU protects London’s strengths with no new tariffs or regulatory barriers being placed in the way of our ability to trade across Europe.  I have been clear that I believe the continued membership of the single market is our best chance to achieve this and ensure the continued success of London’s world-leading finance, professional services, tech, creative, life sciences and higher education sectors.


Businesses need certainty to plan and invest and so it is also vital that the Government gets on with defining what type of transitional arrangements it is seeking.  Businesses around the world are taking investment decisions now and, unless the Government can start offering some clarity about the future, London and the rest of the UK will start losing out.


Fiona Twycross AM:  Thank you.  We are already hearing examples of discrimination against EU nationals as a result of concerns about what might happen in the transition arrangements.  In light of the Government’s leaked memo, how can you continue to reassure Londoners and particularly EU nationals that they are welcome in London?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It is really important that we understand that we have neighbours, friends and members of our family who are Londoners but who are EU citizens who are feeling vulnerable, scared and uncertain about their future.  I have been quite clear.  As far as I am concerned, they are welcome here.  They make a massive contribution and that is not going to change.


I have received reassurances from members of the Government I have met - and I have to be careful when I say - that the document that was a leaked a couple of weeks ago in the press is not the Government’s stated position, which reassures me.  We have to carry on lobbying the Government to make sure, when it comes to negotiating with the EU, that it reflects what we want, which is a deal that does right by EU citizens.  In my opinion, that means they have a cast-iron guarantee that they will be welcome to stay here.


Fiona Twycross AM:  Considering the potential impact on people’s futures, not just EU nationals but Londoners as a whole, do you feel the Government is providing the public with enough clear information about what post-Brexit UK will look like?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  No.  The evidence we have is ‑‑ I am not sure they know what post-Brexit UK looks like.  That is a source of concern for the reasons I have said.  Businesses around the world are making decisions now about future plans.  Also, families want to make plans about their futures as well.  The Government needs to get to a good position and make that clear.


It is also difficult for the EU to know where we stand.  I have met two European ministers in the last week.  They are none the wiser on what the UK’s position is.


Fiona Twycross AM:  Thank you.  I think we can all agree that it would be helpful for the Government to clarify the position as quickly as possible.  Thank you.