Tower Hamlets councillors have backed the Mayor of Tower Hamlets and called for a People’s Vote on Brexit, and urged the Government to “abandon any plans for a hard Brexit”. Councillors agreed a motion at a meeting of the Full Council.
The Mayor had earlier called for a People’s Vote at the launch of the local council’s Brexit Commission, which will be looking at the impact of Brexit on Tower Hamlets and what preparations the council should make.
During the council meeting councillors made clear their opposition to the way the government is handling Brexit, and challenged the Liberal Democrats for their role in the coalition government which brought about the EU referendum in 2016.
The motion agreed by councillors ‘calls on the Government to abandon any plans for a hard Brexit and to give the British people a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal, along with the opportunity to vote on keeping the many benefits Britons enjoy by staying in the European Union.’
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “There is a great deal of uncertainty over Brexit and the Government seems unwilling or unable to stand up for the local people, communities and businesses that will be affected by Brexit.
“Tower Hamlets voted overwhelmingly for Remain and its right and fair that we have a People’s Vote.”
Councillor Amina Ali, Cabinet Member for Culture, Arts & Brexit, said: “There is a growing campaign for a People’s Vote, and we have sent a very clear message that we fully support that. But while we argue for a People’s Vote, it’s also important that the borough is prepared for Brexit and that’s why we’ve launched a Brexit Commission to make sure the council is fully prepared.”
Administration Motion regarding Brexit
Proposer: Cllr Amina Ali
Seconder: Mayor John Biggs
This Council notes that it is now over two years since the Brexit vote and the Government still has no satisfactory Brexit plan. Since the vote we have gone from the top of the G7 for economic growth to the bottom. For communities up and down the country, jobs and businesses are under threat and it is absolutely right for local authorities to be making a stand on their behalf.
This Council also notes that the Tower Hamlets Labour manifesto 2018 included a pledge to “campaign for a referendum on the final terms of any Brexit deal, so that local people are able to express their view on the future of this country.”
This Council further notes:
Communities in Tower Hamlets have benefited from significant EU funding in recent years through the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund. The borough currently receives £2.6 million towards initiatives to improve the local economy, development, infrastructure, employment and training.
More than one in seven residents in our borough, some 41,000 people, are from the remaining 27 EU states. They play a valued role in one of the country’s most diverse and inclusive communities.
The uncertainty and potential impact of Brexit on our businesses. In Canary Wharf, each day 120,000 people work in 37 office buildings alongside 300 shops, cafes and restaurants. Further, Brexit will hit many small businesses, with almost 99% of the 16,800 firms based here employing fewer than 250 people.
This Council believes that the white paper confirms the government intends to leave the customs union and lose access to the single market for services, which account for 80% of the UK economy. As a result, the Withdrawal Agreement will fail to meet Labour’s six tests, specifically the test that any deal must deliver the “exact same benefits” we have as full members of the EU.
This Council also notes that the Mayor has established a Brexit Commission, chaired by Cllr Amina Ali, to lead local preparations for the UK’s departure from the European Union.
This Council calls on the Government to abandon any plans for a hard Brexit and to give the British people a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal, along with the opportunity to vote on keeping the many benefits Britons enjoy by staying in the European Union.