Sadiq Khan has again urged the government to secure London special access to the European single market and enable it to continue easily recruiting workers from EU countries as part of the Brexit negotiations.
The London Mayor stressed on Peston On Sunday the importance of London’s economy to the country as a whole and argued that although the United Kingdom voted to “leave the European Union, to leave its structures and to leave its legal institutions, what nobody voted for was to become poorer”.
Responding to Peston telling him that bank bosses are saying that “the game’s up in terms of recreating the kind of access to the single market that they’ve got at the moment” and that Brexit will lead to jobs being moved from London, Khan, stressing that he meets “regularly” with “the prime minister, David Davis [the Brexit minister] and others”, said that for London “the two most important things are privileged access to the single market and the continued ability to attract talent.”
Khan added that he thought Tony Blair’s recent speech, in which the former prime minister urged people to “rise up” against Brexit, had underlined “that, actually, hard Brexit is damaging to our country and makes us poorer. I think the government needs to take on board the concerns of chief executives and those who create jobs, wealth and prosperity, the reasons why London and our country are a good place to come to.”
Last month, two of the largest investment banks in the City of London confirmed that some of their staff will definitely move abroad when the UK leaves the EU. The chief executive of HSBC said he was preparing to relocate 1,000 of the bank’s workforce to Paris, and the boss of Swiss bank UBS said that about the same number of its 5,000 jobs in London could go.
Asked if he was concerned by the ongoing takeover bid for Unilever, whose Grade II listed office building is a central London landmark, Khan said “let’s wait and see what happens”, but acknowledged that “I’m always nervous when I see takeovers that could lead to jobs being lost”.
Khan has been leading a “London Is Open” campaign in response to the EU referendum result last June and collaborating with the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry on proposals for a dedicated regional work permit system to “secure practical immigration for post-Brexit London”.