Mayor demands autonomy to keep London building

In a keynote speech, the Mayor of London demanded more autonomy for the capital in areas such as housing and planning in the aftermath of the Brexit vote June 28, 2016 / Isla MacFarlane
Mayor demands autonomy to keep London building

Sadiq Khan’s call came as he referenced the petition calling for London to declare independence that has gathered 175,175 signatures since Friday. It is understood that Mayor is looking for the devolution of fiscal responsibility including tax raising powers, as well as more control over business and skills, housing and planning, transport, health and policing and criminal justice.

“As much as I might like the idea of a London city state, I’m not seriously talking about independence today,” Khan said. “I am not planning to install border points on the M25! But on behalf of all Londoners, I am demanding more autonomy for the capital – right now. More autonomy in order to protect London’s economy from the uncertainty ahead, to protect the businesses from around the world who trade here and to protect our jobs, wealth and prosperity.”

Baroness Jo Valentine, CEO of London First, said, “The Mayor is right that we must remain part of the single market. London businesses are absolutely clear this is critical to protecting jobs and prosperity, not just in the capital but across the whole of the UK. We also need London to keep the economic engine running by having the levers to drive forward projects such as Crossrail 2, doubling housebuilding and improving skill levels. Where the mayor needs more powers to act, he should be given them.”

Khan stressed that he wasn’t “asking for London to get a bigger slice of the British pie”, only for Londoners to “get more control over the slice of the pie we already get.”

He reassured people in the rest of the UK that they will benefit from more devolution for London “because when London succeeds, the rest of the country succeeds too. And when we fail, the entire nation fails.”

Khan urged the Government to “move fast” on devolution, and said “we can’t hang around for the outcome of the negotiations before we give Londoners more control”.

He mentioned the strong support for devolution from the Chancellor George Osborne and Boris Johnson, who established the London Finance Commission report into devolution for London as Mayor.

The Mayor’s call was today backed by business and Government leaders from across London.

Jules Pipe, Chair of London Councils, said, “London Government is speaking with one voice on this issue. We need more power over our own destiny to help cope with the fallout of leaving the EU.”

Professor Tony Travers from the London School of Economics, said, ““The referendum result is a profound constitutional moment for the UK and there’s no going back now. The London Finance Commission was established and enthusiastically backed by Boris Johnson.  There should be no political block to making devolution to London (and other British cities) happen fast. This is a rare opportunity to reshape our constitution to ensure London has the powers it needs to allow people more direct access to those who make decisions about their city.  Whitehall is remote even to Londoners.  The lesson of last week’s vote is that people want to be listened to.”

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