London is the greatest city in the world and the best place to do business.
I am truly proud and humble to be deputy mayor for business of this great capital, which showed such resolve and resilience in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Westminster last week.
Our capital’s response was to show that we will not be cowed by terrorism and instead we showed unity, solidarity and exactly what it means to be a Londoner.
We will never forget those innocent people who lost their lives and we will continue to tell the world that London is open to our friends in capital cities across Europe and around the globe.
With the Prime Minister confirming she will trigger Article 50 on Wednesday, now is the time for action and Sadiq Khan is leading the way in visiting Brussels and Paris later this week to make the case that despite Brexit, London remains the number one destination for investment, trade and tourism.
In light of the horrific attacks last week, Sadiq has scaled back what was planned to be a wider trip including visits by him to Berlin, Madrid and Warsaw. However, I am leading a delegation of London’s technology and life sciences companies to Berlin today, to support them to expand and export across Germany.
Fifteen of the fastest-growing companies in the capital are accompanying me on this trade mission, organised by the mayor’s international business programme. The £5m programme aims to support high-growth companies to increase their export success across a range of key markets. It is the perfect platform for businesses to explore expansion plans and trade links, but is also a great opportunity for us to underline the importance of strengthening ties between the two cities and to further boost tech and life sciences trade links.
Our message is simple: London is the best city in the world to start, grow or globalise your business. No other city can provide its unique environment for business success: access to the best talent from around the world, an abundance of high-quality office, co-working, start-up spaces, excellent connectivity, and an entrepreneurial and innovative environment.
Sadiq has been London’s champion before and after Britain voted to leave the European Union in making sure the capital’s voice is heard and in making the case for a proper, sensible solution to the complicated challenge of leaving the EU without causing significant economic damage.
Together, we continue to make the case to the government that London must be able to recruit and retain the very best global talent and to make sure visitors right across Europe and the rest of the world maintain easy access to the greatest city in the world.
This is why this trip, and our business programme, comes at a critical time in the Brexit process. We not only need to strengthen trade ties with Europe, but it’s crucial we show the rest of the world that Brexit will not prevent London from attracting business and that our collaborations with other major cities will not cease.
It is in both Britain’s and Europe’s interests to ensure London remains globally competitive. If London loses out, then France, Germany, Spain, Poland and all our neighbours lose out too, because Europe benefits from its proximity and access to the world’s leading financial centre. We will be making this point clear during our trip, where I will be opening up business opportunities for a further 43 London startup companies in Madrid and Paris as part of a six-day mission.
Brexit has unquestionably caused a great deal of uncertainty for business in London and when I speak to companies both large and small across the capital, they tell me they are concerned about the impact of a hard Brexit and the message it sends out to investors.
We at City Hall are on the side of business and the City of London as we go into Brexit negotiations, and this is why Sadiq is using his regular meetings with David Davis, the minister for exiting the European Union, to ensure he fully understands how important London’s needs are, from securing privileged access to the Single Market to attracting the talent we need for our city to continue to thrive.
In short, we have to make sure everyone understands that London is open and we will continue to push home that message both at home and abroad.