London, my constituency, voted firmly to remain in the European Union. Of those who cast a vote, 60% wanted to stay in the EU.
That’s arguably because London has benefited so greatly from the UK’s membership of the EU. Home to almost a million EU nationals – roughly a third of all EU nationals in the UK – London has a proud history of welcoming foreign nationals to live, work and study. Many of these individuals have chosen to lay down roots in London, building their lives here and enriching our culture.
A report published by London First and PWC in March 2017 found that 30% of those employed in the capital’s construction sector were born in other EU countries – likewise 30% of employees working in hospitality, 15% in the financial sector, and 14% in the creative industries. These links to other parts of the world – in Europe and beyond – has helped make London an innovative, exciting, creative, friendly and open-looking city.
My report Losing it Over Brexit found that London receives more than £500m each year to support communities, tackle inequality and develop the local economy. This funding has supported cultural programmes at the British Museum, academic research at London universities, and the development of infrastructure projects such as Crossrail. It has helped to tackle youth unemployment in inner London, support small businesses, and improve training and job opportunities for Londoners.
Many of the green spaces that Londoners know and love benefit from a special EU status giving them an important extra level of protection against development. The EU has helped to clean up the Thames, as well as protecting threatened birds in the Lee Valley and heathland on Wimbledon Common.
The UK’s decision to leave the EU puts all this, and much more, at risk. Alongside the Green Party members of the London Assembly, Sian Berry and Caroline Russell, I will fight to ensure that any Brexit deal protects all Londoners, and our environment.