Sadiq Khan will this evening pledge to be “an advocate for business” who champions the capital’s competitiveness during the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
Mr Khan was a strong supporter of the Remain campaign and recently told Sky News that ministers should wait until after the German and French elections next year before triggering Article 50, the formal mechanism for leaving the EU.
Tonight he will use a keynote speech at the Lloyd’s City Dinner to repeat that message, warning it would be “irresponsible” to start the withdrawal process before ministers have agreed a “watertight” negotiating position.
The mayor will tell his audience: “Triggering the start of the clock before we are much clearer on the path ahead, would increase uncertainty, rather than reduce it.”
Although he opposed leaving the EU, Mr Khan has said the voters’ decision should be respected and that efforts should be focussed on getting the best deal rather than trying to overturn or block the referendum result.
Tonight he will reiterate that message, telling his audience of top business leaders: “What is important now is that rather than looking backwards, we focus on how we respond, adapt and move forward with the confidence befitting our great city.
“Standing up for London – making sure we get the deal we need with the EU to secure the future prosperity of our city.
“So this will be my approach: In London’s corner to protect our competitiveness. And actively fighting in the ring to advance our city ever forward, making it better for all Londoners.”
The Government have previously pledged that City Hall and other devolved institutions will be invited to help shape Brexit.
Mr Khan will promise to use this opportunity to be “a strong voice” for London’s businesses and their workers and to set out the importance of securing continued access to the single market.
He’ll say: “Getting simple, easy and comprehensive access to the single market for our financial sector is not only central to London’s ongoing status as the world’s leading provider of financial and professional services.”
Mr Khan recently asked the London Finance Commission to bring forward a “beefed-up set of devolution proposals” to equip the capital for a post-Brexit world and last week urged ministers to ensure London’s “world-leading” universities remain accessible to EU students.
Commenting on tonight’s speech, Peter Whittle, leader of the UKIP group on the London Assembly, said: “The Mayor must be finding it hard realising quite how positive Brexit has been for the UK economy as a whole and for London in particular.
“He like everyone must have seen the slew of figures showing how Brexit, far from harming the medium and long term prospects for the economy is, instead giving it a competitive edge.
“He talks about looking forward, and we quite agree, and we are delighted that he seems to have realised that membership of the single market is not required for access to the single market.”
Mr Whittle said his group would be “delighted to support the Mayor as he campaign and works to free our great city from the dead hand of those who would work to see it fail”.
The Leave supporter also called on Mr Khan to “think outside the old constraints and look to ways in which our new found freedoms can improve the life of all our citizens”.