Sadiq Khan: “The UK will remain part of the European family”

Speaking in Brussels on Tuesday morning the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called on the British Prime Minister Theresa May to start work on measures to ensure residence rights for EU citizens currently living in London and the rest of the UK. With the British Government poised to trigger article 50 and set in train the process of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, the issue of the residence rights of EU national in the UK is something of a political hot potato across the Channel.

Speaking at The New European Order conference in the swish surroundings of Brussels’ Concert Noble hall, Mr Khan stressed that “Even if the UK leaves the EU we will remain part of the European family”.

Mr Khan added that he had opposed the Brexit as his city has strong ties with mainland Europe, not least because of the large number of EU nationals living in London.

"There are 3.3 EU nationals in the UK, of whom 1 million live in London. They contribute a great deal to our economy and to society. Every EU national is a Londoner. They will always be welcome in our city. This is while it is important that the British government says as much. We need a cast iron guarantee that they can remain in the UK”.

Mr Khan added that he is pleased that the President of the European Council Donald Tusk has called on EU member states to guarantee the residency rights of UK nationals living in other EU countries.

Neither EU nationals living in the UK nor UK nationals living elsewhere in the EU "should not be used as trading chips in the negotiations".

The Mayor of London favours “flexible migration”, citing the example of builders. Of the 300,000 construction workers in the London just half were born there. Of the 50% that were British-born, a fifth are set to retire within the next 5 years.

“If the number of migrants falls, we won’t have enough workers to meet London’s needs. It’s not just in construction, but also in financial services, technology, life sciences etc. If London suffers, the rest of the country will suffer too.”

As London is home to one of the World’s great financial centers, Mr Khan believes that a bad Brexit deal would not only hurt his city, but would also hurt the EU too.

"Any jobs lost in London wouldn’t go to Paris, Frankfurt or Brussels, but to other financial centers like New York, Singapore and Hong Kong”. A hard Brexit would be a lose-lose scenario for both the UK and the EU”.

Mr Khan call for the people of the EU to put pressure on their politician during the Brexit negotiations. “My message is: call on your leaders to negotiate in the common good so that everyone negotiating has a common aim, to maintain prosperity in the EU”.

“Terrorism will never win”

The Mayor of London began his speech with a minute’s silence for the victims of last week’s terrorist attack in London and last year’s attacks in Brussels and at Zaventem Airport.

"We share a determination to never let the terrorists win. Our message is clear: London, Brussels and other great cities will never be made afraid by terrorism.”