Mayor launches his Tower Hamlets Brexit Commission with a call for a second referendum

PUBLISHED: 15:24 06 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:44 06 September 2018

Tower Hamlets backing for second referendum on Brexit. Picture: Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets backing for second referendum on Brexit. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

The local Brexit Commission launched by Tower Hamlets Council today is starting off with the mayor wanting another referendum.

Mayor John Biggs... “Promises made in the referendum are clearly shown to be bunk.Mayor John Biggs... “Promises made in the referendum are clearly shown to be bunk." Picture: Mike Brooke

Promises made in 2016 are now shown as “bunk”, John Biggs told the East London Advertiser at the launch.

His views reflect Canary Wharf Group’s feelings at the heart of the business community that Brexit is “not a good idea”.

East London—firmly in the ‘remain’ camp—was about to feel the impact of quitting the European family of nations.

“I’d like us to have another referendum on whether people really want to go ahead with Brexit,” the mayor told the paper. “The promises that were made in the referendum are clearly being shown to be a certain amount of bunk.

“It may be that we have a referendum on what the final proposals are, because it’s a lot messier than people like Boris Johnson suggested. The mess we’re getting into is very worrying for us.”

Brexit was a national issue, the mayor acknowledged, but “not enough is being asked” by the government about the impact on local communities.

“It’s really going to have quite a big impact on us in the East End of London,” he said. “We have a big business community which is concerned, a big EU citizenship who will be anxious about their future and many new businesses set up by EU citizens.

“The NHS is also having trouble recruiting staff—which is a big problem.”

The commission is being chaired by Cllr Amina Ali, who is giving assurances and advice to the estimated 41,000 EU citizens from the Continent living in Tower Hamlets about their continued status.

It is to run a series of road shows from September 15, the first being staged at Whitechapel Ideas Store, telling the public what effect Brexit will have on their lives.

Canary Wharf strategy director Howard Dawber... Canary Wharf strategy director Howard Dawber... "We didn’t think Brexit was a good idea." Picture: Mike Brooke

The commission is also taking evidence from businesses, organisations and members of the public about the local economy, civil society and public services, to consider how any negative effects of the split can be minimised.

Its commissioners include Canary Wharf Group’s strategy director Howard Dawber, who said: “We didn’t think Brexit was a good idea, along with most people in this borough. We’re not where we would like to be. We hope for a soft Brexit and a close working relationship with the EU.”

Canary Wharf is weathering the storm and was “pretty much full”, he revealed, with several buildings under construction which already have tenants lined up.

But one major occupant, the European Medical Association, is quitting with the loss of 900 east London jobs to move to Amsterdam.

Around 36,000 scientists and regulators visit the association each year which benefits the East End’s hotel and entertainment industry. All that will soon be lost—negotiations are now under way by the agency with Canary Wharf Group to end its lease.

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