Dismore questions Mayor over Brexit delay

At today’s Mayor’s Question Time, Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore AM, questioned London Mayor’ Sadiq Khan over the problems facing London as a result of the decision to defer the parliamentary vote on Brexit.

Mr Dismore asked the Mayor:

‘What does the postponement of Parliament’s vote on the EU Withdrawal Agreement mean for London?

‘Lame duck Prime Minister Theresa May has again kicked the can down the road – if a lame duck can kick – but there is little road left in the cul de sac she is in and the brick wall at the end is growing ever closer.

‘The risk of a ‘no deal’ Brexit is looming ever larger, despite there being a clear majority in Parliament and the country against it. The Conservatives are now squandering £2 billion on ‘no deal’ Government preparations based on what they call a ‘war footing’, which attitude perhaps explains their lack of success in negotiations; they are also telling business belatedly to do the same, with no thought as to how much the cost will be for them; just how wary should Londoners  be of a no-deal outcome on  29th March next year?

‘We saw the value of the pound drop yet again, at its lowest in 18 months on news of the vote postponement. We have seen growth in the economy slow, and the outline of the Conservatives’ proposed immigration scheme affecting EU nationals, which will leave many public and private sector jobs unfilled like in the NHS. What will be the likely impact on London’s economy of this further chaos; and will you redouble your efforts to campaign for a second referendum to head off a ‘no deal’ Brexit?’

The Mayor said that:

This was to be one of the biggest and most important votes for a generation. The last 2 years have resulted in a bogus choice of her deal or no deal. People didn’t vote for this. The Prime Minister accepts she would have lost the vote. The Prime Minister’s decision to plough forward is worrying. She needs to revoke article 50 to allow the time for a public vote. The Mayor was really concerned as she puts the interests of her job above Londoners’. The £2 billion being used could have gone to the NHS, police, and other services. The Conservatives who were heckling should be deeply ashamed. If there is a “money tree” it should go on public services, not their ideological cravings.

The pound going down impacts on imports and results in EU citizens going elsewhere or not coming as remittances have fallen in value. It is possible to pause by delaying or withdrawing Article 50, to avoid catastrophe.

 After Question Time Mr Dismore added:

‘Brexit is the biggest challenge facing London and leaving the EU will likely create hurdles to the Mayor’s ambition of creating a fairer and more inclusive economy. Not only is there great potential damage to our economy from ‘no-deal’ and Londoners facing even higher food prices, there is also great uncertainty for our one million EU citizens that have made their home in London, their friends, families and their employers that rely on them and who contribute so much to London. Further austerity is inevitable if we crash out of the EU.

‘The Government are putting ideology and party politics over good businesses sense when it comes to Brexit, as seen by the failed attempt of Conservative MPs to dump Theresa May. The Mayor has published independent economic analysis of the impact of different Brexit scenarios on London’s economy which shows the impact worsens as the scenarios become harder.

‘The Government must secure a deal that works for London to avoid wrecking our economy. We should remain in the single market and the customs union as this is what businesses in London want in order to keep bureaucracy to a minimum and have access to skills. A failure to secure a good deal in negotiations with the EU would deal a hammer blow to London’s economy, hitting the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest.

‘Personally, I feel the only way to resolve these issues is a People’s Vote- a second referendum on the issue of Mrs May’s deal or remaining in the EU.’