Tower Hamlets mayor attacks government ‘obsessed with No-Deal Brexit’

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs at the launch of the borough's Brexit Commission in September 2018. P

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs at the launch of the borough's Brexit Commission in September 2018. Picture: Mike Brooke. - Credit: Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs has accused the government of pushing the country towards No-Deal Brexit while leaving councils unable to prepare for the potential fall-out.

He also criticised the fact that a £100million fund set up to run a No-Deal public relations campaign dwarfs a new £20million fund to help councils deal with a No-Deal scenario.

The Independent reported that left around £60,000 per council.

Mr Biggs said: "The government is obsessed with a No-Deal Brexit and is focused on driving the country over a cliff edge.

"It has suddenly found cash to fund No-Deal planning, which is completely avoidable, while our residents have suffered from years of austerity.

"Government should stop No-Deal and divert the money earmarked for this to these vital services."

Mr Biggs went on to criticise what he saw as local government being shut out of No-Deal preparations.

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"Local councils provide crucial services like social care and children's services, yet the government refuses to recognise how these services could be hit by a No-Deal Brexit," he added.

The council moved to prepare the borough for No-Deal by setting up a Brexit Commission in September last year, but Tower Hamlets Labour said the government had failed to provide adequate support to local authorities.

As well as a lack of funding, the group hit out at chancellor Sajid Javid for delaying a three-year spending review until 2020, meaning funding limits will only extend to March 2021.

Tower Hamlets Labour argued this left departments unable to plan for the long term and created uncertainty for frontline services that councils provide like social care and children's services.

Stepney Green councillor Sabina Akhtar is member for culture, art and Brexit.

She said: "The government knows the kind of damage that a No-Deal Brexit will cause to our economy, but it's not being straight with people about the potential impact.

"We're doing what we can as a local council to prepare for a No-Deal Brexit, but the reality is that the government needs to step up and provide more certainty for people, businesses and councils about their future."

The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government has not replied to a request for comment.