London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for a fresh referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, warning that leaving the bloc could lead to job losses and worsened economic prospects.
In an editorial published in the Observer newspaper, Khan slammed the British government for its handling of negotiations with the EU.
“At every stage, [Prime Minister Theresa May’s] government has looked unprepared and out of its depth, resulting in a litany of wrong turns,” Khan wrote, before criticising his predecessor as London mayor, Boris Johnson, for prioritising his political ambitions.
“It seems the debate has become more about Boris Johnson’s political ambitions than what’s good for the country.”
The UK has until March 2019 to secure a deal with the EU over the terms of its exit from the organisation, but May only agreed to a unified negotiating platform with her cabinet in July.
That has led to worries that Britain is heading for a ‘no-deal Brexit’ that would see the country revert to World Trade Organisation rules on trade and force it to pay tariffs on goods imported from the EU.
Critics of Brexit warn that failure to reach an agreement would result in mass job losses, as costs increase, and see businesses shift their operations to the EU.
The British government has already admitted to stockpiling medicines in case the country leaves the EU without a deal.
Khan said that the scenarios for the British exit from the EU were “a million miles from what was promised during the referendum campaign” in 2016.
“I don’t believe it’s the will of the people to face either a bad deal or, worse, no deal. That wasn’t on the table during the campaign.
“People didn’t vote to leave the EU to make themselves poorer, to watch their businesses suffer, to have NHS wards understaffed, to see the police preparing for civil unrest or for national security to be put at risk if our co-operation with the EU in the fight against terrorism is weakened,” Khan said.
The comments by the London mayor come amid rising political pressure on both the government and the opposition Labour Party to call for a second referendum.
Both parties are divided on the issue, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has so far resisted pressure from within his party and from trade unions to publicly call for a new vote.
May’s ruling Conservatives are divided between those who support a ‘soft’ approach to leaving the EU, those who wish to remain in the bloc, and others who want a complete separation from the organisation.__Al Jazeera