Tower Hamlets fights Brexit on behalf of resident EU nationals

European Union flag. Pic: MPD01605 (Flickr)

The Mayor of London  Sadiq Khan has prompted the Prime Minister Theresa May to give EU nationals living in Tower Hamlets the right to remain in the UK.

There are just under 30,000 EU nationals living in Tower Hamlets, which is 10 per cent of the borough’s total population.

The Mayor wants to fulfil his pledge to protect EU citizens who are currently living in the UK as soon as the prime minister triggers Article 50 at the end of this month, which will be the official start of the Brexit process.

Earlier in the month the House of Lords passed an amendment to give all EU citizens, who have resided in the UK, the right to remain in the country after Brexit. However, this was rejected by MPs and Article 50 passed into law unchanged.

Last year, in his statement following the referendum, Khan said: “I want to send a particular message to the almost one million Europeans living in London, who make a huge contribution to our city – working hard, paying taxes and contributing to our civic and cultural life. You are welcome here.”

Since Brexit, the Mayor has released several reports detailing the positive and non-disruptive impact EU nationals have had on London. Last July, along with leading British visual artist David Shrigley, Khan also launched the campaign #LondonIsOpen to show that London is united.

At the launch of the campaign, he said: “We don’t simply tolerate each other’s differences, we celebrate them. Many people from all over the globe live and work here, contributing to every aspect of life in our city. We now need to make sure that people across London, and the globe, hear that #LondonIsOpen. I urge everyone to get involved with this simple but powerful campaign to send a positive message to the world.”

The Mayor has requested the Home Office to set up a simple process for all EU nationals currently living in the UK to apply for permanent residence.

In a press release from the Mayor’s Office, Khan said: “Business, universities, schools and the health services are all telling me the same thing – you can’t keep over a million Londoners in limbo.

“It is vital that the Government gives them a cast-iron guarantee of the right to remain in the UK and does not use them as bargaining chips during the complicated process ahead. This reflects badly on the global reputation of London and the UK.”

Workers and businesses in Tower Hamlets make up the third highest contributor to UK tax revenues (£12 billion).

Over 64 per cent of Tower Hamlets residents voted ‘remain’ in the EU Referendum, in line with the majority of London Boroughs. Turnout in Tower Hamlets was also 64.6 per cent.

Following the Vote for Brexit and the defection of Tower Hamlets councillor Andrew Cregan, the Labour Party lost majority on the council, after they triumphed in the London Borough, following the removal of Lutfur Rahman nearly 2 years ago.

Cregan ditched the Labour party and joined the Liberal Democrats, after discovering his former party were supporting Article 50 calling it “the last straw”.

Now, for the EU nationals living in Tower Hamlets, supported by Khan and councillors such as Cregan along with the Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs – who voted and campaigned against Brexit – it is still a waiting game to determine whether they have a future in Britain.

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