The Mayor of London recently used a keynote speech in Brussels to declare that it is not in the European Union’s best interest to ‘punish’ Britain through the Brexit negotiations.
Sadiq Khan said he was ‘proud’ to call himself a European and to know that Britain had been part of the EU for 44 years. He said: “The EU stands as a symbol for how different people – and different nations – are stronger together than they are apart.”
At a conference in Brussels staged by Politico, he said that the EU had transformed Europe’s economy for the better, regenerated some of the poorest communities on the continent, enhanced workers’ rights, protected consumers and promoted peace. He also amplified his call for the 3.3million European citizens (a million of whom are Londoners) who currently live in Britain to be given a ‘cast-iron guarantee’ of their right to remain in the UK post-Brexit.
At the start of his speech he called for a moment’s silence for the victims of last week’s horrific attack – PC Keith Palmer, Aysha Frade, Kurt Cochran, Leslie Rhodes – and all victims of terrorism across Europe.
He said: “The people of Brussels know all too well what it’s like to suffer from senseless terrorism. And I know we share a steely determination to never allow these terrorists to succeed. London, Brussels and Europe will never be cowed by terrorism.”
In the main body of his speech, the day before Theresa May is expected to trigger Article 50, officially beginning the Brexit process, the Mayor called on European leaders to act with ‘confidence’ and not to ‘punish’ Britain for Brexit.
He added: “Now is the time to be confident in the European Union. And to act with confidence. There’s no need – as some have suggested – for the EU to send a message – or to instil fear – by punishing the UK. Because a proud, optimistic and confident institution does not secure its future through fear.”
Following his speech, The Mayor was due to hold high-level meetings with several senior politicians including the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.