London’s leaders have been invited to play a part in shaping the UK’s future relationship with Europe following last week’s vote to quit the European Union.
That vote led to David Cameron announcing his resignation as Prime Minister and Conservative party leader, with former London Mayor Boris Johnson widely expected to succeed him.
While Mr Cameron, who campaigned to remain in the EU and has declined to trigger the leaving mechanism, today announced the creation of a new unit in Whitehall to “bring together officials and policy expertise from across the Cabinet Office, Treasury, Foreign Office and Business Department”.
This unit will be responsible for ensuring the new PM “has the best possible advice from the moment of their arrival” on the options available to negotiate a new relationship with Europe.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Cameron confirmed that every tier of Government, including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the 25-strong London Assembly, would be expected to contribute to discussions about the nature of that relationship.
The PM said he hoped London’s politicians would “make their voice heard very strongly”.
Ministers and officials will also solicit the views of the devolved bodies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as well as the administrations of Gibraltar, the Crown Dependencies, the Overseas Territories and all regional centres of power.
Mr Cameron said this approach would “ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are protected and advanced.”
Last week Mr Khan said the capital’s importance to the UK’s economy meant it was “crucial” the city “has a voice at the table during those renegotiations”.
He added: “Although we will be outside the EU, it is crucial that we remain part of the single market. Leaving the single market of 500 million people – with its free-trade benefits – would be a mistake.
“I will be pushing the Government to ensure this is the cornerstone of the negotiations with the EU.”
Today Tony Arbour, Chairman of the London Assembly, welcomed the PM’s commitment to listen to views from outside Whitehall.
Mr Arbour said: “A successful renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with the European Union is of monumental importance and it must involve consultations with the capital city.
“It is only right and proper that the government considers London’s needs and the needs of all regional centres.
“This deal needs to work for everyone concerned and I am pleased to hear that the skills and experience of London’s regional government will be utilised to ensure the best interests of Londoners are at the forefront.”