London mayor Sadiq Khan to EU citizens: “You are welcome here”

London mayor Sadiq Khan. Image: Getty.

There are something like 3m EU citizens in the UK – around a third of them in London alone.

What happens to those people now that Britain has voted to leave the European Union – whether free movement of people within Europe is to be retained – is not nearly as clear as one might hope. (You’d think that someone in the Leave campaign might have worked this out before we voted on it, but no.)

But one man at least is determined to soothe some nerves. In a statement released this morning, London mayor Sadiq Khan wrote:

“I want to send a particular message to the almost one million Europeans living in London, who make a huge contribution to our city.... You are welcome here. We value the enormous contribution you make to our city and that will not change as a result of this referendum.”

Whether he can deliver on this promise remains to be seen – London’s mayor does not have control of the city’s immigration policy.

His response, however, has the advantage of being politically expedient, as well as the right thing to do. London’s success as a world city has been built on its ability to attract workers from all over the world. With rumours that multinational banks are already looking at moving staff out of the city, this is a good moment to talk as if London is still open for business.

Here’s Khan’s full statement.

“I believe that Britain is better off within the European Union, but the British people have clearly spoken today, and their democratic will must now be fulfilled.

“I would like to praise David Cameron for the dignified way he has reacted to the message sent by the British people in his words at Downing Street today. I agree with the Prime Minister that Britain can survive and prosper outside the European Union.

“I want to send a clear message to the British people and to businesses and investors around the world this morning - there is no need to panic.

“I still believe that our country is better off within the European Union, but there is no doubt that London will continue to be the successful city it is today. Our city and our country will continue to be the best place in the world to do business. And we will continue to look outwards and trade and engage with the entire world - including the European Union.

“Although we will be outside the EU, it is crucial that we remain part of the single market. Leaving the single market of 500 million people - with its free-trade benefits - would be a mistake. I will be pushing the Government to ensure this is the cornerstone of the negotiations with the EU. It is crucial that London has a voice at the table during those renegotiations, alongside Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“We all have a responsibility to now seek to heal the divisions that have emerged throughout this campaign - and to focus on that which unites us, rather than that which divides us.”

“I want to send a particular message to the almost one million Europeans living in London, who make a huge contribution to our city - working hard, paying taxes and contributing to our civic and cultural life. You are welcome here. We value the enormous contribution you make to our city and that will not change as a result of this referendum.”

 
 
 
 

The Fire Brigades Union’s statement on Theresa May’s resignation is completely damning

Grenfell Tower. Image: Getty.

Just after 10 this morning, Theresa May announced that she would resign as Britain’s prime minister on 7 June. A mere half an hour later, a statement from Royal Institute of British Architects president Ben Derbyshire arrived in my inbox with a ping:

“The news that Theresa May will step down as Prime Minister leaves the country in limbo while the clock ticks down to the latest deadline of 31 October. While much is uncertain, one thing remains clear – a no deal is no option for architecture or the wider construction sector. Whoever becomes the next Prime Minister must focus on taking the country forward with policies beyond Brexit that tackle the major challenges facing the country such as the housing crisis and climate change emergency.”

I was a bit baffled by this – why would the architecture profession try to get its thoughts into a political story? But then Merlin Fulcher of Architects Journal put me right:

Well you know construction is a larger contributor to GDP than financial services, and most of the work UK architects do is for export, and at least half of the largest practice (Foster + Partners) are EU, so there's a lot at stake

— Merlin Fulcher (@merlinfulcher) May 24, 2019

So, the thoughts of the RIBA president are an entirely legitimate thing to send to any construction sector-adjacent journalists who might be writing about today’s big news, and frankly I felt a little silly.

Someone else who should be feeling more than a little silly, though, is Theresa May herself. When listing her government’s achievements, such as they were, she included, setting up “the independent public inquiry into the tragedy at Grenfell Tower” – a fire in a West London public housing block in June 2017 – “to search for the truth, so nothing like it can ever happen again, and so the people who lost their lives that night are never forgotten”.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, is having precisely none of this. Here’s his statement:

“Many of the underlying issues at Grenfell were due to unsafe conditions that had been allowed to fester under Tory governments and a council for which Theresa May bears ultimate responsibility. The inquiry she launched has kicked scrutiny of corporate and government interests into the long-grass, denying families and survivors justice, while allowing business as usual to continue for the wealthy. For the outgoing Prime Minister to suggest that her awful response to Grenfell is a proud part of her legacy is, frankly, disgraceful.”

A total of 72 people died in the Grenfell fire. At time of writing, nobody has been prosecuted.

Jonn Elledge is editor of CityMetric and the assistant editor of the New Statesman. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

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