We’re the last line of defence for residents as we hurtle towards ‘calamitous’ Brexit

Cllr Joseph Ejiofor, cabinet member for planning and enforcement.

Cllr Joseph Ejiofor, cabinet member for planning and enforcement. - Credit: Archant

Last month, Labour revealed the government was spending £4.2billion on preparations for Brexit which amounted to around £171,000 an hour.

In comparison, Haringey Council has been granted just £200,000 to draw up contingency plans for Brexit.

Since the beginning of 2019 this means government will have spent nearly £258million, more than double the total amount of cuts Haringey Council has faced over the last nine years as a result of the austerity agenda. Shockingly, ministers have admitted the government has been stockpiling food and medicine, as we tumble ever closer towards a no deal Brexit, now ostensibly just three weeks away.

An often overlooked aspect of the Brexit negotiations is that, should a no deal Brexit happen, it will be councils which will have to help pick up the pieces.

A council is the last line of defence for residents. We are expected to be there to shield them from some of the worst things life throws at them. In Haringey, one of the most unequal boroughs in the UK, with a plethora of small businesses and scores of workers living on zero hours contracts, the threat of a no deal Brexit is immense.

The Local Government Association has highlighted that macroeconomic consequences of a no deal Brexit will impact on household and business stability, with the knock-on effect being increased pressure on local public services, which are already at breaking point.

While councils are still lacking key information on what the UK’s future relationship with the EU will look like, Haringey Council has been working to allay the fears of EU citizens living and working in the borough. Last month, we organised a public meeting, where they could learn what the council was doing in preparation for Brexit, how to apply for settled status and what other support the council was providing.

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My message to our borough’s 42,000 EU residents from other countries remains: Haringey wants you to stay and we will do everything we can to support you through the Brexit transition period and beyond. National government urgently needs to wake up to the political and economic realities of the situation we are hurtling towards, and extend Article 50 to break this Brexit deadlock and save this country from a calamitous no deal Brexit.