Sadiq Khan says ‘open London’ seeks common ground with EU for Brexit deal: full speech

London’s Mayor has used a speech to an audience of European business people, journalists and politicians to say that the UK capital will always consider itself “part of the European family”.

Speaking in Brussels this morning, Sadiq Khan argued that it is in the common interests of the UK and the European Union to eschew “the animosity, differences and anger that many expect” and instead conduct the forthcoming Brexit negotiations in a spirit of goodwill, so that “Britain and the whole of the EU continue to thrive”.

After a moment’s silence to remember PC Keith Palmer, Aysha Frade, Kurt Cochran and Leslie Rhodes, the four fatal victims of last week’s terror attack in Westminster, the mayor delivered three key messages:

One: an assertion that “London will always remain open to Europe and the EU”

Two: a belief that the EU can continue to prosper and will benefit from its nation’s citizens urging their leaders to avoid a “hard Brexit” that cuts them off from London, which Khan described as Europe’s “only truly global financial centre”.

Three: a reiteration of his view that Theresa May should provide non-UK EU nationals with “a cast-iron guarantee” that they will have a right to remain in the UK after Brexit.

Here is Mayor Khan’s speech, as drafted, in full:

Thank you. I’d like to take a moment to say something about the horrific terrorist attack on London last Wednesday.

Our hearts are with the family and friends of those who lost their lives and everyone who was injured. The victims came from across Europe and around the world – from the UK, France, Spain, Romania, Greece, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Italy, South Korea, China and the United States.

This was a cowardly and horrific attack in the heart of London – but it was also an attack on us all – and our shared way of life. It was an attack on our values – of democracy, freedom, justice and tolerance – values that are shared across our continent.

The people of Brussels know all too well what it’s like to suffer from senseless terrorism. And I know we share a steely determination to never allow these terrorists to succeed. The message today from us is simple and clear: London, Brussels and Europe will never be cowed by terrorism. We will defeat their poisonous ideology.

On behalf of all Londoners, I’d also like to thank you for the incredible friendship shown by our European neighbours, friends and allies over recent days. It really has been amazing. It matters – it means a lot.

It makes us stronger during these difficult times to be reminded that we have enduring and historic friendships. It’s a reminder of all we have in common. And it’s a reminder that even though Britain will be leaving the European Union – we simply must continue to work together– not only on security and counter-terrorism, but on the many shared challenges we face.

So I would ask you to please stand and join me in a moment’s silence to remember PC Keith Palmer, Aysha Frade, Kurt Cochran, Leslie Rhodes and all victims of terrorism across our continent…

Members of the European Parliament, ladies and gentleman – it’s a privilege to address such a distinguished audience in such an illustrious venue  – with representatives from politics, the media and business from across Europe.

I became the Mayor of London less than a year ago. I knew then that my city faced big challenges ahead. The same challenges faced by many European cities – from air pollution to security, from the cost of living to a lack of affordable housing.

But it’s now clear that one of the biggest challenges facing London – and indeed all of Europe – is a new one – Brexit. So it won’t surprise you that this is what I’d like to talk to you about today.

I’m here to talk to you as an ambassador for London, but also as a friend, a colleague and a proud European. I campaigned for Britain to remain as part of the European Union. I campaigned for what – in my view – was the best interests of London, Britain and all of Europe.  And even though London and other major cities in my country voted to remain in the EU – the rest of the country chose to take a different path.

But Brexit is now going to happen. The British people gave their verdict. They expressed their democratic will, which must be respected, and we know the Prime Minister is due to trigger Article 50 tomorrow which will mean the start of the Brexit negotiations.

So the question now is this: What form should Brexit take? And what deal is in the best interests of all concerned?

So I’m here in Brussels at a pivotal moment in our shared history.  And I come with three important messages:

Firstly – a message that London will always remain open to Europe and the EU.

Secondly – to send a direct message to EU citizens across the continent.

And thirdly – with a message actually for the British Prime Minister and the British Government about how best to proceed over the next two years and beyond.

Let me start with London. Brexit has caused a huge amount of uncertainty about London’s future – not only in the UK, but around the world. So one of the reasons of my visit is to reassure European citizens and businesses that despite Brexit, my city – London – will always remain open and welcoming to the world.

Immediately after the referendum, I launched a major new campaign – London Is Open. I want to prove beyond any doubt that London remains welcoming, united, outward-looking and open. Open to investment. Open to trade. And open to talent.

I want to show that London is – and will always remain –the best place in the world to do business. To show that London is – and will always be – entrepreneurial, international, inclusive and full of creativity and possibility. And to show that London is – and will always remain open to the best and the brightest talent from Europe and around the world.

So I come here with a message of optimism and hope during gloomy times. Because I’m optimistic about London’s future and our future working together. And everyone here should be too.

And this takes me to my second message – about the mutual interests of London, the UK and the EU. Europe’s history of culture, innovation and democracy has helped to shape the world as we know it for centuries. And today nations on every continent of our planet still look to Europe with admiration. They look to us for guidance and leadership on major global issues.

And we should never underestimate how much of our collective success is thanks to the European Union. The EU is an institution like no other in the world. And it’s an institution that I’m proud my country has been a part of for the last 44 years.

Yes – the EU has been criticised in recent times, justifiably so – with increasing calls for major reform. But we mustn’t forget the extent to which it’s been a force for good in the world. How much it’s achieved. And how it’s transformed the face of Europe.

The EU stands as a symbol for how different people – and different nations – are stronger together than they are apart. The single market has changed the lives of 500 million people in Europe and more than 21 million businesses in Europe for the better. And it has also changed the lives of people and businesses around the world for the better.

The EU has funded regeneration in the poorest communities across Europe, including in London. It’s introduced vital workers’ rights and enhanced social welfare. It’s protected consumers. It’s entrenched equal pay and the rights of women throughout Europe.

It’s made us safer – through cross-border policing, the European Arrest Warrant, intelligence sharing and much more.  And it’s assisted in the extraordinary political, social and economic transformation of many countries, which are now full members of the EU – something unimaginable when I was growing up.

But the greatest achievement – which we must never take for granted – is that for 60 years, the European Union has been the foundation of peace in Europe following centuries of bloodshed on our continent.

This march of progress was never inevitable. It’s thanks to the hard work of good men and women, and cities and countries working together – here in Brussels and across the continent. To spread the values of justice, equality and peace. And to ensure prosperity is advanced through investment and trade – key drivers of economic growth.

So the EU has a distinguished history. And it’s one we must all be proud of – regardless of the current climate. But I’m also optimistic about the future of the EU. There’s no question that we’re facing turbulent times across Europe – some would say a turning point.

And there are major challenges ahead. The rise of narrow populist politics. The challenge of ensuring that all our citizens share in the benefits of globalisation. And standing strong in the face of our common enemies, like the terrorism we saw in London last week and that has, unfortunately, been experienced in other European cities – including of course Paris and Brussels.

But I’m confident – and you should be too – that the European Union will survive long after Brexit and the tests we now face. And that the EU will continue to benefit millions of Europeans and advance progress just as it has for the last six decades.

So as a friend of the EU. As a Mayor of a European city. And as a proud European, my message to you is this: Now is the time to be confident in the European Union. And to act with confidence.

There’s no need – as some have suggested – for the EU to send a message – or to instil fear – by punishing the UK. Because a proud, optimistic and confident institution does not secure its future through fear. Quite the opposite.

Because the truth is that London will always remain a key partner for Brussels and every European nation long after Brexit is resolved. And I say this with both humility and pride – London is home to Europe’s undisputed financial and commercial capital.

My city is not only the beating heart of Britain’s economy, but the single most important organ for growth across Europe. I say this with friendship and all due respect – but a bad Brexit deal that hurts London would hurt the European Union too. It would cut Europe off from its only truly global financial centre. It would disrupt the supply chains of major industries and sectors across the continent – hurting everyone in the process.

It’s simply the case that major financial institutions, transactions and jobs will not move on mass from London to Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid or Dublin. But as business leaders have made clear to me – a bad Brexit could instead see businesses and jobs leaving Europe altogether and going to New York, Singapore and Hong Kong instead. This would be bad news for Europe as well as for Britain.

So a bad Brexit – a so called ‘hard Brexit’ – really is a lose-lose situation – for jobs, growth and living standards across Europe. So my message to European citizens – from Sweden to Italy, Germany to Romania – is this:

Tell your leaders to ensure that the Brexit negotiations are conducted in the best interests of your future, your family’s future, the future of your country and the values that the EU was founded upon. That means ensuring that all sides enter the negotiations over the coming period with a single united ambition:  to see Britain and the whole of the EU continue to thrive and prosper.

This is what I and millions of Londoners and Brits want to see. And I know it’s the same for the majority of EU citizens too. There’s common interest we can all unite around.

Finally, I want to finish with a message to the British Prime Minister and the British government. There are 3.3 million EU citizens living across Britain – around a million in London alone. They make a huge contribution to our city, our economy, our culture and our society.

And I’m sure many of you here today will have lived, worked or studied in London at some point in your life. And that many will have friends and family living in London right now. I’ve always been clear that every single EU citizen in London is a Londoner and they are – and will always be – welcome in our city.

But it’s crucial that the British Government now does the same. Because as we start the Brexit negotiations, it would be a perfect gesture of goodwill – and proof that we still have a common interest as a continent – to provide a cast-iron guarantee of their right to remain in the UK.

Of course – I urge the EU to do the same for British citizens living elsewhere in the EU. And I’m pleased that the President of the European Commission, Donald Tusk, has called on European leaders to do so. But I call on the British Government to act now. Because we’re talking about people’s lives and families – husbands, wives and children.  And that’s too important for us to use as a bargaining chip.

So let me finish with this: I’m optimistic that London, the UK and the EU have bright futures ahead of us. And that the historic bonds that we’ve established over many years can – and will – endure. The UK might be leaving the union, but in London we’ll always consider ourselves part of the European family. Our connection and collaboration is rooted in mutual interests and common values.

Of course we have disagreements, but we all start from the foundation of democracy, justice and the ambition to improve the lives of our citizens. I know that with the right approach – one that remembers our shared values – we’ll achieve remarkable things together as we go forward. Not only for the cities, countries and institutions we represent, but crucially – for the people we serve.

It was Erasmus – a name that now embodies European co-operation and understanding – who famously said: “Fortune favours the audacious”. And now – at this turning point in European history – it’s time for us to be audacious and bold with our approach to Brexit.

This means putting aside the animosity, differences and anger that many expect, and working together to find a solution that brings continued fortune and prosperity to us all.

Thank you.

The speech was made at 08:00 Brussels time at the start of a half-day event organised by Politico magazine to discuss The New European Order, held at the Concert Noble conference venue.

 

 

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