While much of the dust refuses to settle after an extraordinary election, what remains clear is that thanks to a dodgy deal with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party Theresa May is determined to try and push ahead with a destructive hard Brexit. Labour will continue to fight for a better alternative that delivers for the many not the few but in the meantime it is essential that action is taken now to end the crippling uncertainty faced by the many Westminster residents who are EU nationals.
Westminster Labour is calling for the Council to take at least five key steps in response to Brexit:
- The Conservative City Council must urgently lobby the Conservative-DUP government to ensure the rights of everyone in Westminster are protected by committing to allow our EU national residents to stay here and carry on their lives as before. Clearly the Government must push for reciprocal rights for UK nationals in other EU member states but Westminster residents must not be held hostage in the negotiations. As the 2017 Labour national manifesto said EU nationals living here ‘are part of our society and should not be used as bargaining chips’. Westminster Council has a duty to stand up for its residents, engage with EU nationals’ fears about the future and do all it can to support them.
- The Council must protect local services from Brexit. It is clear that damage is already being done to the NHS as shown by the 96% drop applications from EU nurses but Westminster must conduct an urgent audit of its staffed and contracted services to examine and understand the impacts of the impending Brexit process on local provision. This is particularly important in areas such as social care with a high number of staff who are EU nationals.
- The Council must also urgently examine the impact of Brexit on the future of Westminster’s primary schools. With primary school rolls already falling due to the impact of Tory welfare cuts and demographic change, given the high number of primary pupils who are EU nationals, Westminster must work to deliver stability in primary school numbers and resources for the sake of all its pupils.
- The Council must further examine the economic impact of Brexit on our city, not only in terms investment but particularly on the impact to Westminster’s small businesses.
- The Council must also continue to examine and monitor the impact of a potentially bruising Brexit process on community cohesion in our city. This can be done by continuing and fully resourcing the work of the Community Cohesion Commission and ensuring the council works with the police to address any rise in hate crime.
Labour Group Leader Cllr Adam Hug said “Westminster Council needs to stand up for its residents and fight to give our EU national residents a future in this city. Westminster Labour will fight against a Tory-DUP hard Brexit and Conservative-led Westminster Council must stand up to their colleagues in Government to protect our residents.”