London Mayor Sadiq Khan Reassures EU Citizens They Are Welcome

  • About 1 million European nationals live in the U.K. capital
  • ‘You cannot play politics with people’s lives,’ mayor says

London Mayor Sadiq Khan sought to reassure European Union citizens they are welcome in the U.K. capital after a surge in incidents of racism since Britain voted to leave the 28-nation bloc last month.

Khan called a meeting of ambassadors of the 10 EU nations with the largest number of citizens living in London on Tuesday to tell them he won’t tolerate hate crimes. He also urged the incoming prime minister, Theresa May, to provide guarantees that EU citizens will be able to remain in Britain even as it extricates itself from the bloc.

Sadiq Khan

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

“It is simply not good enough to leave EU citizens in London in limbo,” Khan said in an e-mailed statement. “The irresponsible position taken by some politicians has caused unnecessary uncertainty and anxiety among communities in London. You cannot play politics with people’s lives.”

May, a Conservative, has attracted criticism after saying she’d like to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in Britain, but their fate is tied to Brexit negotiations over the future of Britons living on the continent. The London population, which is creeping toward 9 million, includes about a million EU citizens.

“London is a great city and thousands of Spaniards work or study here, being part of its vibrant community,” Enrique Ojeda, an official at Spain’s embassy in London, said in the statement. “They feel at home and that is how it should remain.”

Lawmakers in Parliament are due to discuss potential measures to guarantee the rights of EU citizens after Brexit later on Tuesday.