Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville (Lab & Co-op) has warned of “significant challenges” for the borough at the end of the 11-month Brexit transition period.
Though it has been revealed Town Hall has wound down its emergency planning for the impact of a no-deal Brexit, the borough’s elected mayor warned that all the risks for which the council had been bracing itself will remain in play on 31 December.
The council anticipates a wide range of impacts on its functions from the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, including on the supply chains of its subcontractors, a loss of employees from EU countries, and a fall in the value of the pound delivering a beating to its finances.
Mayor Glanville said: “In terms of the emergency planning around Brexit, that still exists within the council, but is not on the crisis footing that it was when we feared a no-deal Brexit.
“A lot of those questions around workforce, food supply, and procurement emergency planning were stepped back as we approached Friday 31 January.
“There are still significant challenges as we approach the end of that transition period. In a year’s time, if some of these issues aren’t resolved, then the effects of that cliff-edge Brexit could still be felt.”
Glanville added that the council now sees Brexit through the prism of three main priorities: leadership around EU citizens’ rights, supporting residents to apply for settled status, and continued monitoring by emergency planners going into December.
The borough leader was quizzed by councillors at last night’s scrutiny panel over whether last Friday’s Brexit Day signalled the drying-up of any funding from the EU.
Mayor Glanville reassured the panel that, while there were “small pockets” of funding as part of broad consortiums of voluntary sector organisations in the borough, there was “nothing meaningful” that would be hit by the withdrawal from the EU.
Questioning the Mayor, Cllr Sharon Patrick (Lab, Kings Park) said: “We’ve heard from Boris Johnson that they are planning to move further and further away from the European Union.
“I think this is something different to what we expected, and it’s early days yet, but how will this affect Hackney? How can we ensure that Hackney still remains a friendly, pro-European borough.
“We will give our European residents any support and help that they need in gaining permanent residence and making sure they’re welcome, and that there isn’t a Windrush situation that occurs for European citizens.”
It is understood that 14,000 EU nationals in Hackney have now applied for settled status.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made clear that the UK is to resist the acceptance of EU rules on the environment and citizens’ rights as post-Brexit trade talks begin.
Mayor Glanville added: “People have said that our regulations will be as good as the EU or better, but that doesn’t sound like the mood music of the last couple of days.
“We left the EU because we didn’t want to be a rule-taker, but I think in the financial trade arena, 70 million people on their own, however big their market, ends up being a price- and rule-taker.
“I really worry about those standards, and there’s probably some alliances to be built across local government, especially with agricultural sector, around those standards.”