Today I met with Core City leaders ahead of our meeting with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels next Monday. We will be there ensuring the interests of people and businesses outside London are being heard.
On Thursday I visited Bristol engineering company Seetru. In the workshop, on the wall, they have photos of all the people who work there. They say the government are not listening to them, and that they have already lost orders. The consequences of a failure to listen could be very immediate for the Bristol families in those photos.
There is a deep irony in the way the UK government is approaching the Brexit negotiations. For many people the leave vote was partly about sending a message to the UK establishment, but the UK establishment has fallen into the trap of pursuing the negotiations to the exclusion of other voices. What is being pursued is a Brexit for Westminster rather than a Brexit for the UK. It’s one of the reasons we are in such danger of getting a poor outcome that will undermine Bristol’s and the UK’s economy.
We intend to open the door to possibilities available for cities that are not as accessible to national leaders. These could include bespoke city to city deals, individual citizen membership of the EU, protection of international research networks, the establishment of a joint cities commission made up of UK and European cities, or mitigations to ensure our police service is not undermined by the fragmentation of security arrangements.
My Core Cities colleagues and I will attend the European Commission Headquarters with the president of the European cities network, EUROCITIES, meaning roughly 200 urban centres will be represented at the meeting.
It is no small thing that we will be joined by Eurocities. This is an example of the solidarity of a wider movement across the world. A movement where cities are looking for opportunities to shape national and international policy in the face of national governments who are finding themselves limited in their ability to lead and deliver in the world the way it is.