‘Newham remains open’: Mayor’s reassurance ahead of Brexit

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz. Picture: Ken Mears

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz has penned an open letter to reassure the borough’s residents from across the European Union as Britain prepares for Brexit.

The nation is set to leave the EU at 11pm tonight (Friday, January 31), with Ms Fiaz keen to make sure people from other EU countries who live or work in Newham feel that their presence is valued.

She said: "I want to reassure the many thousands of Newham residents who have travelled to this borough from EU countries that we value your contribution to our economic and cultural life and we will fight to protect your rights.

"I want to state very clearly that Newham is your home. You are part of our vibrant and international Newham family, bringing a richness to our community which is the most diverse borough in the UK.

"As our friends, our neighbours and our colleagues, you will always be treated with respect and you will be supported in the period ahead.

"In the face of Brexit we will continue to make clear that Newham remains open for business from around the world. We are the most diverse borough in the UK, with connections to every country across the globe."

In the 2016 referendum, Newham was in favour of Britain remaining in the EU - with 53 per cent of voters wanting to stay. It was a contrast to the national picture, with the leave vote winning by 52pc to 48pc.

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Since then, Newham Council set up a Brexit board to draw up plans to protect the borough's interests, as well as the welfare and security of residents.

Ms Fiaz added: "Newham has a long tradition of welcoming people from across the world like it did when my parents came to the UK and made this borough our home.

"As the daughter of immigrant parents, it's important to me that all our EU citizens continue to be welcomed in our borough and are valued for their contribution to it."

Britain is set to enter into a transition period while the exact terms of Brexit are worked out, during which EU citizens will retain the right to live and work in the UK as before. In the long term, however, they will need to apply for settled status.

There have been 45,570 applications for settled status from people living in Newham - more than any other local authority in the UK.