Sadiq Khan today called for greater autonomy for London in the wake of last week’s EU referendum.
Although the campaign to take the UK out of the European Union achieved majority support across the country, Londoners voted overwhelmingly to remain inside the trading the bloc.
Since the result of Thursday’s vote was announced there have been calls both for a second referendum and for the Mayor to declare independence from the rest of the UK.
In a speech to business leaders attending The Times CEO Summit, Mr Khan said he wasn’t backing such calls but was “demanding more autonomy for the capital – right now.”
Although his speech contained few specifics, the Mayor said he would be seeking the ability “to protect London’s economy from the uncertainty ahead, to protect the businesses from around the world who trade here and to protect our jobs, wealth and prosperity.”
He also used his speech to re-iterate a key message of former Mayor Boris Johnson and the London Finance Commission, stressing that he wasn’t “asking for London to get a bigger slice of the British pie”, but for Londoners to “get more control over the slice of the pie we already get.”
Mr Khan said the Government should deliver greater powers for London without waiting for the UK’s Brexit talks with the rest of the EU to conclude.
The Mayor also repeated his previous calls for the UK and London’s businesses to retain access to the single market.
Baroness Jo Valentine, CEO of businesses lobbying group London First, has backed the Mayor’s stance, saying: “London businesses are absolutely clear this is critical to protecting jobs and prosperity, not just in the capital but across the whole of the UK.
Professor Tony Travers, who chaired the London Finance Commission, added: “The referendum result is a profound constitutional moment for the UK and there’s no going back now.
“The London Finance Commission was established and enthusiastically backed by Boris Johnson. There should be no political block to making devolution to London (and other British cities) happen fast.
“This is a rare opportunity to reshape our constitution to ensure London has the powers it needs to allow people more direct access to those who make decisions about their city. Whitehall is remote even to Londoners. “
Jules Pipe, Chair of London Councils, said Mr Khan had the backing of local councils and that Londoners “need more power over our own destiny to help cope with the fallout of leaving the EU.”
On Monday Colin Stanbridge, CEO of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, called for London to have “its financial Independence Day” and Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed the Mayor and London Assembly would be among the bodies consulted over the UK’s Brexit talks.
LONDON ASSEMBLY REACTION
Opposition members on the London Assembly have welcomed the Mayor’s speech.
Liberal Democrat Assembly Member, Caroline Pidgeon, said: “I stand shoulder to shoulder with the Mayor in his call for more devolution of powers to London and most importantly greater say over how taxes raised in the capital are spent.
“London lags behind many international cities in the proportion of taxes paid by individuals and businesses that is directly retained by the Mayor and the boroughs.
“There was a powerful case for more powers being devolved to London before the European referendum. The case for London now having greater control over its future is overwhelming.”
Gareth Bacon AM, Conservative group leader, commented: “There are clear benefits to London taking additional control of powers in some areas such as those set out by the London Finance Commission when Boris Johnson was Mayor.
“I welcome Sadiq Khan’s support for the measures that Boris Johnson proposed.
“This is something that has been on the table for a long time however and the Mayor didn’t give any real detail as to how he will work with central government to deliver this devolution.
“If he’s serious about making things happen for London he will need to come up with a definitive plan and I look forward to hearing the details.”