Nottingham City Council reaffirms opposition to Brexit

Loxley House, home to Nottingham City Council
By Kit Sandeman, Local Democracy Reporter

Labour-run Nottingham City Council has reaffirmed its position that the UK should remain a member of the EU.

One senior councillor called for a second referendum – a so-called ‘people’s vote’ – to be held on the final deal.

In a full council meeting today, the authority also criticised the Government for the handling of the negotiations.

In Nottingham, 50.8 percent of people voted to leave in the June 2016 referendum. In the East Midlands, 58.8 percent voted to leave. Leicester and Rushcliffe were the only two areas in the region which voted remain.

On Monday (November 12) the authority voted overwhelmingly to reiterate its belief that “it is in the best interests of business, residents and the whole city of Nottingham for the UK to continue its membership of the European Union, while seeking reform on a number of key issues”.

This statement was first made in 2015, but the city council said its “position remains the same and since that time a ‘watching brief’ has been maintained on developments as the EU Exit process unfolds. The council is monitoring the changing picture for events or trends that may impact Nottingham’s citizens, businesses or the council”.

It also pledged to produce an “emergency planning” report early next year on what the impacts of a no-deal Brexit could be for the council.

The authority said it had not received specific advice from the Government on how to prepare as a local authority.

It said: “The Government has published a series of technical notes covering advice for various sectors in the event of a no deal.

“As yet, none has been published which specifically covers the local government sector, however some are of relevance to local government such as state aid arrangements and the ‘government’s guarantee for EU-funded programmes if there’s no Brexit deal’.

“More analysis of risks and possible mitigations for council service areas (e.g. procurement) and projects are required. For example, anecdotally there could be significant impact on the care market if the flow of labour from the EU is restricted.”

All but one council area of Nottinghamshire voted to leave in the June 2016 referendum. Only Rushcliffe voted to remain.

Councillor Michael Edwards, who represents the Bridge Ward, which voted to remain, said:

“It is important that we as local politicians know just what the impact is going to be.

“We’ve got uncertainty on what we’re going to be doing, that uncertainty has hurt the pound, that has affected inflation.

“Specifically, in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Derbyshire, we have received £240 million from the European Structural Investment Fund.

“It’s not at all clear what the replacement for that kind of money will be.

“Nottingham has had £190 million of EU funding since 2000. People say it’s anti-democratic to have another referendum, but are we not allowed to change our minds?

“The Channel 4 survey (published last week) shows Nottingham and Derby would both now be remain.”

The vote was approved by all Labour members. The three Conservative councillors voted against the motion.

On Monday Prime Minister Theresa May said a deal on leaving the European Union was close to being complete.

She said: “We are working extremely hard, through the night, to make progress on the remaining issues in the withdrawal agreement, which are significant.

“Both sides want to reach an agreement, but what we are negotiating is immensely difficult.”

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