This week the future of 17,000 Brighton and Hove residents was thrown into uncertainty when Parliament refused to guarantee the rights of other EU citizens to remain here. These are our neighbours, friends, work colleagues and partners. These are people our businesses and public services depend on.
David Cameron said his legacy would be keeping the UK together, in Europe and out of deficit. With news this week that Scotland wants to hold another referendum, and Ireland is looking at reunification, the Union looks doomed. Parliament has voted to allow Cameron’s unelected successor to trigger Article 50 taking us out of the EU, and the deficit, now at £1683 billion, is growing despite seven years of austerity.
Your council and the services it provides to you are losing £100 million as a result. Five and a half thousand EU staff have left the NHS since last summer, up 25 per cent on the year before, with another 60 per cent considering their future. Whilst the NHS will not get the £350 million a week promised by the Leave campaign, the Chancellor set aside £60 billion for the “unforeseen consequences of Brexit” in his budget. Meanwhile sixteen food banks in Brighton and Hove continue to feed those who are nowhere near “just about managing”. What is the Conservative government’s plan post-Brexit? Trade Secretary Liam Fox said this week that “deregulating the Labour market” will be needed to “remain competitive”.
Presumably such deregulation might include removing sick pay, parental leave, living wage, and health and safety legislation.
Meanwhile Brexit Minister David Davis says he “hasn’t looked into” the impact of not reaching a trade deal with the EU.
According to supporters of Brexit this was the week where Parliamentary sovereignty was “restored”, which apparently meant denying our Parliament any meaningful say in what happens.
Our nation’s future is now in the hands of an unelected and unchecked Prime Minister. At a time when we should be focusing on basic public services, helping those who need it most, and growing our economy for the benefit of everyone, the Conservative Government has caused division and uncertainty, is set to be preoccupied with Brexit for years to come, and appears blind to the consequences of their actions.
Warren Morgan is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.