On June 23rd the Country and the majority of citizens in our city voted to quit the European Union. What this means in reality nobody knows. The people I spoke to who wanted out had a variety of reasons. Some wanted control over who was allowed to come and live here some felt that the laws that we live our lives by should be decided by the people we elect others said they were voting out because David and George wanted to stay in. But now the long process of negotiation will have to begin.
So what assurances do we need from our own government?
There are significant amounts of direct funding that the Council gets from the EU and which we would hope could be honoured by the government. One example is that we receive millions to help Southampton people overcome health problems like depression and addiction so they can get back to work and start paying in rather than taking out.
In terms of key priorities for Southampton in any Brexit negotiation, I have the following suggestions:
Firstly, following a unanimous City Council decision to seek certainty for those European citizens that have chosen to live work and contribute to our city, we ask the government not to use them as a pawn in the negotiations, and make an early announcement that gives them leave to remain in this country.
Secondly, I agree with Owen Smith who is standing for the Labour Leadership that any settlement over immigration should include an agreement to invest in public services in the places that immigrants choose to live regardless of which part of the world they come from. Local people should not have to suffer worse services because of an influx of outsiders.
Thirdly, as a result of European legislation we are now starting to make progress on a solution for poor air quality in our city and I don’t want to see any government backsliding on their support for our proposals for a clean air zone because of Brexit.
Finally I would want to see all of the workplace protections such as paid holidays written swiftly into British Law. Ordinary working people should not have their quality of life reduced because the current Tory government puts the interests of big business above that of ordinary people.
These are my priorities - what are yours?