28 Mar 2017

Sadiq Khan urges May to protect EU citizens’ rights

“As we start the Brexit negotiations, it would be a perfect gesture of goodwill-and proof that we have a common interest as a continent- to provide a cast-iron of the right of the European Union citizens to remain in the United Kingdom,” said Sadiq Khan at a event in Belgium.

The mayor of London is visiting Brussels to hold talks with the president of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker and Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament. Khan opened his speech by calling for a moment’s silence for the victims of the Westminster attack, which took place on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks at Brussels’ airport and Maalbeck metro station that cost the lives of 35 civilians.

Khan expressed the opinion that it is imperative to solve the problem that affects 3,3 million EU citizens in the UK and 1 million Britons that live in the EU. “I call on the British government to act now even if this is not the case. Because we are talking about people’s lives and families-husbands, wives and children. And that’s too important for us to use as a bargaining chip,” said Khan, earning the applause of the audience. The words “bargaining chip” are the exact ones that Jean-Claude Juncker used during his recent interview on BBC. Juncker, who believes in forging a good deal between the EU and the UK, said that the EU institutions and negotiators are not going to play with the lives of the millions of people that work and live there.

The mayor of London called on the EU leaders not to punish the UK for exiting the union. “Now it is the time to be confident in the EU. And to act with confidence. There is no need, as some have suggested, for the EU to send a message or to instill fear by punishing the UK. Because a proud, optimistic and confident institution doesn’t secure its future through fear,” said Khan. During his speech, the mayor warned the EU that a bad Brexit deal could be equally bad for both the EU and the UK. “It would cut Europe off from its only truly global financial centre and risk businesses leaving Europe altogether to head for New York, Singapore or Hong Kong. This would inevitably disrupt the supply chains of major industries in Europe and would be a lose-lose situation for jobs, growth and living standards across the EU,” added Khan.

Sadiq Khan, who has been London’s mayor since 2016, highlighted the significant role of London and commented that he feels like an ambassador of the city abroad. “My city is not only the heart of British 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 will hurt London will also hurt the EU too,” Khan told the audience.

Sadiq Khan finished his speech by sending an optimistic message for the future. “I believe that London, the EU and the UK have a bright future ahead of us. The historic bonds which we have established can and will endure. The UK might be leaving the EU, but in London we will always consider ourselves part of the European family.”