Warren Morgan: Exiting the single market will be a disaster for UK

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In my view leaving the European Union and the single market will be a disaster for Britain, and bad for Brighton and Hove. 
As a city, we voted overwhelmingly to remain. That view now seems to be shared by many other cities and regions who last summer voted to leave. I choose to represent the majority in our city.

Brexit could have a “catastrophic” effect on higher education, a vital sector in our local economy.

Analysis by national law firm Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) found Brighton’s economy is expected to see a significant slowdown in economic growth following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

The impact on tourism, financial services and conferences is a real concern.

This week I met with neighbouring council leaders to discuss ways of strengthening our city region to help us compete in a post-Brexit economy, and met with the French Ambassador to strengthen our ties to our nearest EU neighbour.

Before the referendum the UK was the world’s fifth largest economy. Just eight months later we have slipped behind France and India to seventh.

The value of the pound has plummeted, and financial institutions are discussing moves to places where they will keep access to the single market. The stark reality in the Prime Minister’s speech this week was that the Government has no plan for exiting the EU that in any way benefits the country.

The Government never had a plan because it never expected to lose the referendum. The pledge to put EU membership to the vote was entirely designed to stop the haemorrhage of Tory votes to UKIP at the 2015 General Election and secure a Tory majority.

The promise of an extra £350 million for the NHS has been shown to be a false one.

It was a betrayal of voters and their trust. Acknowledging a decision was wrong should mean we review it, not plough on regardless.

Sir Keir Starmer is right that we must find progressive solutions to the issues which underpinned the narrow vote to leave, but I disagree with the view that the outcome of the referendum cannot be challenged or stopped by Parliament. The referendum was not binding.

Warren Morgan is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.