London Mayor Sadiq Khan has demanded to be included in Britain’s exit negotiations from the European Union following Thursday’s historic decision to quit the trading bloc after 43 years.
Voters in the capital backed the UK’s continued EU membership by 59.9% to 40.01%, with support in some individual boroughs exceeding 70%, although a majority of voters in Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Sutton, Havering and Hillingdon all backed the Leave campaign.
London’s strong support for the EU was dwarfed by Remain’s support in England and parts of Wales and Northern Ireland and failed to stop the UK as a whole voting 51.9% to 48.1% to leave.
On Friday morning Prime Minister David Cameron, who led the Remain campaign, announced he would resign as party leader and PM as soon as Conservative party members picked a successor.
Many observers believe the most likely next PM will be former mayor Boris Johnson who was one of the Leave campaign’s most prominent campaigners.
Speaking in Downing Street, Mr Cameron said the Government would need to consult with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland before starting negotiations with the remaining 27 EU members about any future trade treaty.
Mr Khan, whose manifesto in last month’s mayoral election committed him to campaigning to remain in the EU, 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”.
Despite previously warning that membership of the EU was vital to “supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs, and helping us keep Londoners safe,” Khan today said “our city and our country will continue to be the best place in the world to do business”.
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.”
Addressing the one million Europeans living in London, Mr Khan said: “You are welcome here. We value the enormous contribution you make to our city and that will not change as a result of this referendum.”
London’s business community have urged ministers to ensure London has “the pull factors that will attract global companies to invest and locate” in it.
Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, added: “International trade has long been a critical component of Britain’s economic well-being.
“Now more than ever there is a pressing need to encourage and support British businesses to engage in international commerce and help build a strong and prosperous UK economy.
“In the new landscape, the government needs to develop a national strategy for exports and growth to coordinate departmental activity and ensure appropriately resourced support is delivered to UK businesses looking to trade overseas.”
Mr Stanbridge also called for minsters to consider expanding both Heathrow and Gatwick airports “to ensure London has the infrastructure to compete and that includes aviation capacity to connect to far-off key markets”.