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Camden and Haringey's desire to remain at odds with Brexit win

PUBLISHED: 00:18 25 June 2016 | UPDATED: 10:47 27 June 2016

Camden's desire to remain in the EU placed it at odds with the nation's clear choice to leave

Camden's desire to remain in the EU placed it at odds with the nation's clear choice to leave

Archant

As the nation woke up to a political earthquake, campaigners in Camden and Haringey began to process the disconnect between the north London desire to remain in the European Union and the country's decisive choice for Brexit.

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West out campaigning with Jeremy Corbyn yesterdayHornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West out campaigning with Jeremy Corbyn yesterday

Prime Minister David Cameron announced he would resign and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faced a vote of no confidence within his party as the pound plummeted and billions of pounds were wiped off the stockmarket after almost 52 per cent of voters opted to leave.

The strong showing for Remain in London was not enough to make up for the overwhelming weight of opinion outside of the capital, as town after town, city after city, showed Brussels the door.

By the time Camden made its declaration at 4.30 this morning, it was all over bar the shouting, and cold comfort for the shell-shocked Europhiles in the Judd Street count centre as the expected result was announced.

With 75 per cent of voters choosing to remain, Camdeners had stuck to the script - but the rest of the country had told a different tale.

John Mills of Labour LeaveJohn Mills of Labour Leave

Hampstead and Kilburn Labour MP Tulip Siddiq said today: “The result of the EU Referendum poses an enormous challenge to our economic and political future.

“I respect the outcome of the democratic process, and would like to place on record my thanks to campaigners across Camden and Brent who fought tirelessly for a Remain vote. I share their dismay - however our focus must now turn to healing the divisions in our society that this bitter campaign has created.

“We can and must remember that more unites us than sets us apart.

“We will all now begin a larger discussion about the consequences of the referendum and our collective future in the coming days, but for now, I sincerely hope that we can work together to protect those most at risk from the coming changes to our country.”

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West said she was “deeply saddened and disappointed” by the result of the Referendum.

She said: “I still believe that the UK would be stronger, more prosperous and more peaceful as a member of the European Union.

“I am extremely concerned by the immediate economic reaction to Brexit, as I fear its consequences will hit the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.

“Our priority now must be to come together to address the challenges facing the country by supporting our workers and ensuring the damage inflicting on our economy is minimised.”

Ms West said she was pleased with the campaign locally, with Haringey coming out as one of the most “Europhile” boroughs in the UK with 76 per cent in favour of remaining.

She said: “In Hornsey & Wood Green and in Tottenham, we ran a fantastic campaign, with hundreds of people dedicating hundreds of hours to support positive, issue-based campaign.

“The fact that Haringey secured the fifth highest remain vote in the UK, with just under 80,000 votes, is testament to the hard-work of these volunteers.”

Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer said in a Tweet this afternoon: “Devastating result: Now we must face the future with united determination to mitigate the impacts & heal the deep fractures in our society.”

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West said she was “deeply saddened and disappointed” by the UK’s decision to end its 41-year membership of the EU.

She said: “I still believe that the UK would be stronger, more prosperous and more peaceful as a member of the European Union.

“I am extremely concerned by the immediate economic reaction to Brexit, as I fear its consequences will hit the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.

“Our priority now must be to come together to address the challenges facing the country by supporting our workers and ensuring the damage inflicting on our economy is minimised.”

Ms West said she was pleased with the campaign locally, with Haringey coming out as the fifth most “Europhile” borough in the UK with 76 per cent in favour of remaining.

She said: “In Hornsey & Wood Green and in Tottenham, we ran a fantastic campaign, with hundreds of people dedicating hundreds of hours to support positive, issue-based campaign.

“The fact that Haringey secured the fifth highest remain vote in the UK, with just under 80,000 votes, is testament to hard-work of these volunteers.”

Camden Council’s Labour leader Sarah Hayward said at last night’s count that while she was glad to see Camdeners had very decisively voted to remain, she felt “devastated” about the overall result: “It’s gone well in Camden, but I’m just sorry it wasn’t enough to make up for the rest of the country. It’s a devastating result.”

Cllr Hayward said today on Twitter - before a motion of no confidence was made against Mr Corbyn by two Labour MPs - “So, we’ve left the EU. There no effective government and now no effective opposition. Help @SadiqKhan!”

Camden Council’s chief of finance, Cllr Theo Blackwell, had strongly advocated a Remain vote, but today said it was important for people not to panic.

He said: “World leaders will calm the markets. We are where we are, so we have to try and make this work.

“London and Camden is still an amazing place for businesses to locate and for foreigners to invest. We are open for business.”

But Cllr Blackwell said he was concerned about the economic impact of an impending Brexit.

“There are economic concerns, such as the council’s investment strategy, for house building if the pound is taking a beating, and also for our pension fund. If the fund goes south, that becomes a pressure on our public services.

“We can’t deny the down sides. People were told about it. There is a deep irony in that the business rates collected from Camden are used to fund public services in some of those areas like Sheffield and Sunderland that have voted us out have potentially weakened the tax base for their public services.”

London Assembly Member and the sole Green Party councillor in Camden, Sian Berry, who represents Highgate ward, made her feelings clear on Twitter today, saying: “Whatever good reasons some had for voting, this is a mistake and wrong and a disaster, and I’m so sad for the UK.”

But the founder of Labour Leave and former Camden councillor John Mills, said the predictions of doom and gloom in London were in stark contrast to the hope that people in other parts of the country were feeling today.

Mr Mills, who founded mail order company JML, said: “I think it was a very brave decision by the people of Britain. I didn’t really fully believe it would happen because when the polls came through yesterday, it looked as though it would be a fairly narrow Remain win - and then the situation began to change during the night.

“I can understand why he markets are in turmoil today, but that was always predictable in the short-term. It’s actually very similar to what happened in 1992 when we came out of the ERM and everybody was in a panic.

“What happens next very much depends on what policies the government pursues. It depends what kind of trade deals we negotiate. If there are high tariffs and so on then, no, it won’t be good for the economy - but we are free to make our own trade deals now without being shackled to the EU.”

He added: “There has been a lot of talk about workers’ rights and so on, but I think a lot of this is really grossly exaggerated. The Remain side has mostly exaggerated all the way through about what the downside of leaving will be.”

Asked about accusations that the Leave vote is a victory for xenophobia, Mr Mills said he had “never heard even a hint” of racism from the Leave campaigners he knows.

He said: “With immigration, Labour Leave concentrated on two issues - the fact that immigration drives down wages and the strain that it puts on public services when there is insufficient investment, which means that people end up feeling squeezed out.”

And he added: “If they really want to start calling people racist, I think a policy of discriminating in favour of Europeans rather than people coming here from the third world is about as racist as you can get.”

Mr Mills said he thought the Europhile inclinations of the inner London boroughs reflected the fact that living standards were so much higher than in many other parts of the country.

He said: “In boroughs like Camden and Islington, many people have done very well. They own houses which are worth a small fortune, they are highly paid and they benefit from immigration if they’re employees.

“But uncontrolled immigration does not work in everybody’s interests, it doesn’t work as well outside of the capital, and it’s ridiculous to pretend that it does.”

Asked about the future of the Labour Party, Mr Mills said: “There is a real disconnect between the metropolitan elite of the Labour Party and many of its core voters who live outside of London - and it’s a big problem for them.”

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