The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, on his arrival at Westminster Abbey before the coronation of King Charles III, in London, May 6, 2023. ANDREW MILLIGAN / AFP
On June 23, 2016, the British voted 52% to leave the European Union (EU). Elected mayor of London, the same year, in May, Sadiq Khan, 52, a member of the Labor Party and one of the main voices of the left in the United Kingdom, took stock of this choice with serious consequences by receiving, on Friday June 23, Le Monde and other European newspapers.
Now 78% of Britons want a closer relationship with the EU, according to a DeltaPoll-Tony Blair Institute poll released on Thursday.
Seven years after the referendum on UK membership of the EU, what is your assessment of Brexit?
Because of the divorce from the EU, our growth has not been what it should be, our productivity has fallen further, as have our exports and inflationary pressures have been exacerbated. [l’inflation était encore à 8,7 % sur un an en mai].
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The Brexit that was implemented was a “hard Brexit” and it weakened our country. I find the government’s silence unacceptable. [conservateur de Rishi Sunak] on its consequences. Instead of acknowledging them, he continues to use the invasion of Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic to explain our poor performance. We should finally be having a serious conversation about how to improve the bad ‘post Brexit’ trade deal with the Europeans.
Are you in favor of the UK returning to the EU?
I was a passionate remainer and the victory of Leave seven years ago was heartbreaking for me and for millions of other Britons. But we cannot go back on the result of a referendum so quickly. You cannot tell those who voted for Brexit seven years ago that their vote will now be ignored. You must respect this popular verdict, even though many lies were told at the time by the “Leave” campaign.
It will probably take a generation to consider reintegration into the EU. However, we can work to soften Brexit. We should be discussing a return to the single market and customs union to limit our differences with the EU.
The leader of the Labor Party, Keir Starmer, has however ruled out, for the campaign for the elections to the Parliament of Westminster which should be held by the end of 2024, to advocate a return to the single market and the customs union. Don’t you think your party should speak more candidly about Brexit failure to voters?
I agree with Keir Starmer, for this election campaign. My priority is London, but that of the party is the whole country. A majority of Londoners have voted to stay in the EU [à 60 %, en 2016]while this is not the case elsewhere. [notamment dans les Midlands ou dans le nord de l’Angleterre, où une forte proportion du vote populaire s’est portée sur le Brexit]. But the sad irony is that London has suffered less from leaving the EU than other parts of the country. The capital is doing pretty well [les touristes sont de retour].
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