Right to remain after Brexit for Camden’s EU residents is top worry at Council meeting

Councillor Danny Beales addresses the meeting

Councillor Danny Beales addresses the meeting - Credit: Archant

A separate assembly body being set up in response to Brexit was one of the ideas discussed at an Extraordinary Camden Council meeting on Monday.

The full council met to discuss a report by the Brexit Working Group on the potential impact on Camden of leaving the European Union. Seven guest speakers were invited to address the assembly from cultural and business groups from across the borough.

Concerns were shared at the meeting by councillors that European citizens living in the UK might not have the right to vote for councillors, or serve on the council after Brexit. There are currently two EU nationals sitting on the council, Cllr Leila Roy and Cllr Lazzaro Pietragnoli.

Cllr Pietragnoli, who chairs the Brexit Working Group opened the item. He said: “As a European citizen, I have been following the discussion very closely. I think no solution for European nationals will be achieved if it does not include the right to vote at a local level.”

Later in the meeting, Labour councillor Thomas Gardiner agreed, saying that if the situation meant they would be unable to vote or sit as a councillor then a parallel assembly should be considered.

Cllr Danny Beales expressed his concern that EU nationals would risk being split by the deal over the future status of EU nationals currently living in the UK. “We know that many European citizens here and these families are brought together by love, and risk being divided by their passports,” he said.

One Spanish Camden resident had approached Cllr Simpson, worried about their status to stay in the UK even though they had been given the right to remain in the UK in 1970.

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The report that was presented at the meeting by the group revealed businesses in Camden are concerned about the impact leaving the EU will have on their trade. 61% said Brexit will not offer their businesses any opportunities. Guest speaker Martin Sagar from Camden Town Unlimited urged the council to pressure the Government to retain access to the European labour market. “21 per cent of small businesses in Camden have European employees. Lobby the Government for access to the European workforce after Brexit.”

Conservative Council leader Claire-Louise Leyland said that the result would be about “showing understanding” of peoples problems from the result.

The meeting was told that the Brexit group would continue to meet to assess the impact on the area, and lobby the Government for available support.