London Mayor Sadiq Khan has pleaded with the European Union not to “punish” Britain for Brexit, as he called on the UK government to let EU nationals stay in the country.
Mr. Khan called on EU leaders not to “instil fear” during Britain’s process of leaving the bloc, saying: “Now is the time to be confident in the European Union and to act with confidence. There is no need – as some have suggested – for the EU to send a message, or to instil fear, by punishing the UK.
“Because, a proud, optimistic and confident institution does not secure its future by fear.”
Speaking at Politico event in Brussels, the London mayor also lavished praise on his hosts, saying: “In London we will always consider ourselves part of the European family.”
The British capital, he added, “wanted and needed immigration”, meaning the government must offer a “cast-iron guarantee” to protect the rights of EU nationals to remain in Britain after Brexit.
Such an offer would be a “the perfect gesture of goodwill”, he said.
Mr. Khan also warned that a “bad Brexit” would hurt the remainder of the EU as well as Britain, and that any businesses that quit Britain may relocate to New York or Singapore rather than EU cities like Frankfurt or Paris.
“My city is not only the beating heart of Britain’s economy, but the single most important organ for growth across Europe. I say this with friendship and all due respect – but a bad Brexit deal that hurts London would hurt the European Union too.”
The London Mayor is now set to hold talks with senior EU leaders including Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani.
His comments come just one day before British Prime Minister Theresa May is scheduled to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to formally being the Brexit process.
Britain and the EU will then have two years to conclude a deal before the UK’s membership officially ends.