Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz has today (31 January) reassured all European citizens who live and work in Newham that they are welcome here and their presence is valued.
Ahead of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union at 11pm tonight, the Mayor has said in an open letter: “I want to reassure the many thousands of Newham residents who have travelled to this borough from EU countries that we value your contribution to our economic and cultural life and we will fight to protect your rights.
“I want to state very clearly that Newham is your home. You are part of our vibrant and international Newham family, bringing a richness to our community which is the most diverse borough in the UK. As our friends, our neighbours and our colleagues, you will always be treated with respect and you will be supported in the period ahead. You are essential to the strength of our community and our local economy; and that’s why I want you to stay and continue to benefit from the equality, inclusion and fairness that makes our borough so special.”
In the 2016 membership referendum, Newham voted by 53 per cent to stay in the EU. Following the General Election in December, the Government pushed through legislation which paved the way for tonight’s exit.
In the period since the referendum Newham Council has drawn up plans to safeguard the borough’s interests and the welfare and security of residents through its Brexit Board, which is chaired by Mayor Fiaz.
Once the exit happens, the country enters into a period of transition during which the exact terms of the departure are worked out. During this period little will change including, crucially the right of EU citizens living and working in the UK to enjoy the same freedom of movement rights as before. However, in the long term EU citizens will need to apply for settled status to continue to live and work in the UK and in Newham.
Most recent published statistics show there have been 45,570 settled status applications from residents in Newham – more than in any local authority in the country. Residents who require digital support in applying for settled status can make an appointment to do so in East Ham, Canning Town and Stratford libraries by calling 0333 344 5675.
Mayor Fiaz added: “Newham has a long tradition of welcoming people from across the world like it did when my parents came to the UK and made this borough our home. As the daughter of immigrant parents, it’s important to me that all our EU citizens continue to be welcomed in our borough and are valued for their contribution to it. They work hard in our businesses and services and make an enormous contribution to our economy and community.
“I urge our EU residents to apply for settled status if you haven’t already done so and use the support on offer to do so. You are welcome, you are valued and we want you to stay with us and be part of our community to unleash the potential of this borough and cultivate an inclusive economy that benefits all.
“In the face of Brexit we will continue to make clear that Newham remains open for business from around the world. We are the most diverse borough in the UK, with connections to every country across the globe. We are also home to some of London’s largest development areas, including the Capital’s only enterprise zone at the Royal Docks and a new East Bank cultural quarter with global art and creative institutions coming to Newham in 2022.
“We are also strategically positioned to be at the centre of London’s next phase of expansion and growth. So as London’s gateway to Europe and the world, we will remain as accessible to the continent as possible to encourage business and educational collaboration, cultural exchanges and inward investment. We will also continue to celebrate the rich diversity of our people, including those from Europe, because we want to promote an inclusive, fairer and more prosperous borough that embraces our internationalism and benefits all.”