Ministers ‘ban’ City Hall from flying EU flag on Brexit anniversary

#Brexit special section Policy & Politics

London’s City Hall has been “effectively banned” by ministers from flying the EU flag on the seventh anniversary of the referendum that led to the UK leaving the European Union.

London mayor’s City Hall office was warned it could be prosecuted for flying the flag on today’s anniversary as a mark of “solidarity” with the EU citizens who have remained in the London post-Brexit.

“With over a million people calling London their home from other European countries it’s extraordinary that the government has effectively banned the European flag being flown without going through a long and bureaucratic planning process,” said a spokesperson for City Hall.

“Europeans contribute hugely to our social and economic life, and all we wanted to do was show our gratitude with a small gesture for one day of the year.”

The government changed regulations for public buildings and flying flags and removed the EU’s blue flag with 12 stars from a list of exempt flags not requiring planning permission. Flags that continue to be exempt include the NHS, UN, Commonwealth and Rainbow flag.

London mayor Sadiq Khan told LBC’s James O’Brien radio programme that City Hall regularly flies flags of different countries and organisations to mark events and show sympathy to tragedies.

“We thought it would be a great idea today, on the seventh anniversary [of the referendum vote] to fly the European Union flag. And lo and behold we discovered that the law was changed the year before last which specifically outlaws, prohibits the flying of the EU flag on a public building unless you go through a laborious, lengthy, burdensome and expensive process to get specific permission from the government,” said Khan.

The mayor posted a message to the 1.1 million EU Londoners on Twitter to say “thank you for staying.”

In the video, Khan told them: “You are a key reason why London is one of the most dynamic, most successful and most vibrant cities on Earth. European Londoners are and always will be our colleagues, our neighbours, our friends and our loved ones.

“You belong here and from our food and fashion to our financial centre and public services, your contribution remains pivotal to our city’s success.

“You are a core part of our identity, history and future. And I will always stand up for your rights.”

In a “call to action” posted on Twitter, National Rejoin March urged people to join them outside City Hall at 3pm today to fly the EU flag and distribute thereplicas.

The group are organising a march for the UK to rejoin the EU through London on September 23.

On the seventh anniversary of the referendum, the Independent reports that exports of British meat and fish “to the EU have slumped by almost half since Brexit”, according to new figures.

The Telegraph reports today (june 23) that more than half of British voters – 53% – now believe “the UK was wrong to leave the European Union”, according to a Deltapoll survey commissioned by the Tony Blair Institute. The poll found that 34% of Britons believe it was right to leave the EU.

The Guardian yesterday reported a poll by Public first for thinktank UK in a Changing Europe found “only 18% of 2016 leave voters believe Brexit has been a success”. However, “61% think it will turn out well in the end.”

More than 4,000 leave voters were asked their opinions and less than a third – 29% – believe Brexit has had a negative economic impact.

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