Key Cities respond to the triggering of Article 50

The Key Cities Executive, a cross-party group of nine Local Authority Leaders, released the following statement:

“The triggering of Article 50 marks an important chapter in our history. Key Cities is determined to play our part to ensure that Brexit is a success.

“We represent 26 diverse cities from across the country with a combined population of 8.6 million. One of the things that links many of us in contrast to other cities is the fact that the clear majority of our residents voted to leave the European Union.

“As city leaders, it is our duty to follow their will – whatever our personal politics. But it is also our duty to do what we can to ensure Brexit works for all our communities, to protect them from economic shock and to do everything we can to prevent our residents from feeling left behind.

“With this in mind, we think that it is imperative that local government – but specifically cities like ours – are included in Brexit negotiations. That is not to ask for a seat at the table in negotiations, but instead a voice in scrutinising their outcome. Our communities are the ones most likely to either lose or gain from Brexit – their voice must be recognised and we must ensure that they no longer feel left behind in Britain’s development.       

“We also believe that the Prime Minister can take two clear steps ahead of negotiations now to ensure a more stable outcome from Brexit negotiations.

“First, the Government should commit now to a transitional period after 2019 to allow some more time to negotiate a new trading relationship with the EU. If we rush our exit, our economy, our jobs, and our communities will suffer, particularly as the industrial strategy begins to crystallise. We would urge the government to take the time to get this right, and deliver the best deal for our cities and our country.

“Second, the Government should move to guarantee European structural funds that might be lost as we leave the EU. But importantly these should be devolved directly to city leaders to avoid replicating the bureaucracy that hindered funds being used efficiently.

“Article 50 is a watershed moment for the country. If Government is keen to use it to spread inclusive growth around the county, it needs to work with our cities.”

Councillor Paul Watson, Chair of Key Cities and Leader of Sunderland City Council, has also commented on the implications of Article 50 for cities for City Metric.