Letter for publication : Barnet Council and Brexit

Barnet Council’s Conservative administration’s ‘head in the sand’ attitude  towards Brexit is beyond negligent. Having argued for Brexit , the local Conservatives from the MPs down are ignoring  the rapidly approaching Brexit juggernaut. No deal, bad deal , or an unlikely  good deal- all have consequences for the Council’s own services as well as for all the other public services on which Barnet residents rely- for example  the NHS,  policing and security , food and medicine supplies, the list is very long indeed.

What a contrast with forward thinking Labour led Camden Council. Over a year ago, they reviewed the impact of  Brexit on the borough, having established a cross-party, Member-led Brexit working group to  gather and analyse evidence to understand what potential impact Brexit will have on Camden.     Camden Council has shown how it is  determined to ensure that Camden, its residents and businesses receive the best possible deal from Brexit.  They  have directly lobbied the Government, as well as working with public sector and business partners, in order to ensure Camden’s voice is heard, and the rights of Camden  residents are protected.

Yet ‘rabbit in the headlights’  Barnet has done  nothing. The recent independent LSE report sets out the serious problems Barnet is likely to face as a result of Brexit. The LSE’s specific findings about Barnet mirror the London wide findings of the Cambridge Econometrics report commissioned for City Hall.

Yet Barnet  Council’s Conservatives  are unwilling to plan and prepare for Brexit.

For example, Underhill Labour Councillor Jess Brayne has spoken in the Council about the loss of EU workers and the impact on social care. She is right: it would be a catastrophe if the Council, with such a large and dependent older population, were unable to deliver the social care that is their statutory duty to provide.

Barnet Council may  include the risk of a pandemic that might or might not happen in their risk register, but not Brexit, which almost certainly will.

It is a disgrace  that Barnet Conservatives refuse even to discuss Brexit because their party is so hopelessly divided with their  MPs sprouting embarrassing nonsense. They should put their internal differences aside and stand up for the people of Barnet like Camden has been doing for their population..

Andrew Dismore

London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden