ELECTIONS: Sir Vince Cable comes to Brick Lane for a curry and Lib Dem gloom about Canary Wharf after Brexit
PUBLISHED: 19:06 16 April 2018 | UPDATED: 11:17 17 April 2018
The first of the big guns from Westminster turned up in the Tower Hamlets election campaign when former government minister Sir Vince Cable arrived in Brick Lane for a curry and to back Elaine Bagshaw's pitch to be next mayor.
But last night’s visit to the backwaters of London’s East End had a gloomy message about Canary Wharf’s financial industry after Brexit—and coming clean that his Lib Dem party won’t win the council elections on May 3.
“We start from a long way back,” he told the East London Advertiser. “I remember the 1990s when we controlled the council—but that wasn’t a glorious episode.
“We are not going to win the council, not this time round, but want to establish a base with a large European population with their hostility to Brexit.”
The former government Business Secretary, now Lib Dem party leader in the Commons, predicts a change of public mood towards Brexit.
“The impact on our key industries weren’t understood at the 2016 referendum,” he insists.
“We were told the government would get a special deal for the City and we’d remain in the single market for financial services—but that’s not going to happen.
“Britain is going to be excluded and it’s going to damage the financial institutions which are already relocating.”
He wasn’t predicting “Armageddon” in Canary Wharf, but feared companies and jobs would be lost.
Sir Vince added: “There are areas where we will take a bit of a hit, but expect to make gains in Tower Hamlets on local issues like school cuts, poor social services and corrupt administration.”
The pro-Europe party sees some gains out of what their candidate for mayor Elaine Bagshaw sees as the “infighting in Aspire and Labour parties and the austerity of the Tories”.
Elaine fears, like Sir Vince, Brexit having “a huge impact” on Canary Wharf.
She pointed out: “We’ve already lost the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority from Canary Wharf which used local businesses to supply services. It has a knock-on effect. They created hotel business—all that disappears as well.”
Candidates at the campaign fundraising dinner at the Shaad curry house were promised a Lib Dem mayor would support people to retrain if we lose the financial powerhouse of Europe.
But Lib Dems had to establish their party identity. She told candidates: “We don’t want to be associated with Lutfur Rahman and his two old parties (Aspire and People’s Alliance).
People are tired of Labour’s John Biggs saying that he’s ‘not Lutfur’ and anything he does is fantastic—because it’s not. Children’s services were failing and the most-vulnerable left in terrible situations with the council not dealing with it. That’s not good enough.”
The Lib Dems want to “take back Tower Hamlets”—but it’s a 20-year gap that Vince Cable remembers since the party last called the shots at the town hall.