The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has used a speech to business leaders in the capital as a way of providing a stark warning about the impact of Brexit and the potential damage it could have on Britain’s economy.
Khan, who has been in the job for just under six months having taken over from Boris Johnson, rounded on Theresa May’s approach to Brexit and labelled it “blasé”.
The former Labour MP for Tooting said: “Yes, the country voted for Brexit. And of course, that means we’ll be leaving the European Union. But that doesn’t mean unnecessary economic self-sabotage.
“The government doesn’t have a mandate to jeopardise our economy or the prosperity of millions of people in London and across the country.”
Khan went on to tell the assembled group of leaders at the City of London Corporation dinner that if May’s government continued with what he described as a “reckless hard-headed, hard-nosed, hard Brexit approach” the loss of access to the single market could impact “far and wide”.
“If the proper agreements aren’t negotiated, there will be serious knock-on impacts with jobs and billions of revenue lost – something that would hit the entire country, not just London,” he added.
“My motivation is not about protecting old City institutions just for the sake of it or presenting a London-centric approach. It’s about protecting our country’s economy – protecting jobs, promoting growth and safe-guarding prosperity for the next generation.”
Khan’s approach to Brexit is in stark contrast to his predecessor, Johnson, who was one of the lead campaigners for the vote to leave the European Union. With Johnson now foreign secretary in May’s cabinet, Khan wants a “seat at the negotiating table”, as he looks ensure that businesses are able to retain and attract the best talent from around the world and reduce the impact of Brexit.
He believes the government will ultimately be judged not just on the Brexit deal that is concluded, but also on how this “delicate period” is handled. “And so far, it has to be said – they are scoring poorly. Because it’s clear that the uncertainty created by the lack of clarity on the Brexit negotiations is making it more difficult for businesses to make important investment decisions,” he emphasised.
“If we fail to get a good Brexit deal, businesses are more likely to move to New York, Singapore and Hong Kong than to there cities in Europe. Something that would not be just as bad for us, but for our European neighbours too. Hard Brexit is a zero-sum game for Europe. So now it’s time to stop the bluster and to start working towards a deal that can work for everyone – for Britain and for Europe.”
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