Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is going to visit Brussels, Belgium and Paris, France to strengthen economic ties between the financial powerhouses on same day the Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to trigger Article 50 — the start of the formal two-year Brexit negotiation process.
Khan’s office said in a statement that Khan will be in the two major cities to make the case that “London remains open to business, investment, talent and ideas,” despite Britain formally leaving the European Union within the next few years.
His office confirmed that following his arrival in Brussels, on the evening of Monday March 27, he will meet the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk.
On March 28, he will meet several more senior representatives of the EU including the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and then deliver a keynote speech at a conference called “New European Order.”
On March 29 — the day May is set to trigger Article 50 — he’ll be in Paris.
May is taking Britain towards a “Hard Brexit” — shorthand for Britain leaving the European Union without access to the Single Market in exchange for having full control over immigration into the country.
If the passport is taken away, then London could cease to be the most important financial centre in Europe, costing the UK thousands of jobs and billions in revenues. Around 5,500 firms registered in the UK rely on the European Union’s passporting rights for the financial services sector, and they turn over about £9 billion in revenue.
In January this year, Khan said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that a “Hard Brexit” does “London damage, our country damage.”
“… if businesses decide to leave London, they’re not going to move to Paris, Madrid or Frankfurt, they will be going to Hong Kong, Singapore, or New York. So ‘hard Brexit’ is a lose-lose — bad for London, bad for the UK, bad for the EU,” he added.
Khan cancels other city visits to concentrate on security talk post-London attack
Khan will also be discussing security with leaders in Brussels and Paris after London was rocked by a terrorist attack.
“This will be a vital chance to strengthen London’s ties still further with Paris and Brussels. I will be meeting politicians, officials and business leaders, and I look forward to discussing a variety of key issues with them — ranging from Brexit and expanding London’s economy, to air quality, social integration — and security,” said Khan in a statement.
“Both Brussels and Paris have, of course, been the victim of recent terror atrocities. In the wake of the horrific attack in Westminster last week it will be an opportunity to learn from each other and to show solidarity in the face of this evil assault on our shared values and way of life.
“Like the people of Brussels, and Parisians, Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism.”
It is for this reason that Khan has rescheduled visiting other major European cities that were originally on his agenda. His office confirmed:
“The original plan for the trip also included legs in Berlin, Madrid and Warsaw.However, given the tragic events in Westminster last week, the trip was scaled back. The Mayor hopes that visits to those cities will be able to be rearranged for a later date.”
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