Edinburgh Council flys EU flag in support of European citizens

Lord Provost Donald Wilson raises the European Union flag at the City Chambers. Picture: Greg Macvean

Lord Provost Donald Wilson raises the European Union flag at the City Chambers. Picture: Greg Macvean

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THE European flag has been raised at the City Chambers in a show of solidarity with EU citizens amid a political row over their future status.

Lord Provost Donald Wilson oversaw a ceremony during which the banner was flown to “honour” the Capital’s European residents following the Brexit vote on June 23.

Although just under 52 per cent of Britons who took part in the referendum opted to leave the EU, voters north of the Border backed staying by a majority of 62 per cent to 38 per cent.

And in Edinburgh, 74.4 per cent of those who participated voted to remain.

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The move also comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s outspoken attack on the UK government’s failure to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in Scotland.

An invite sent to Edinburgh councillors yesterday morning said: “The Lord Provost would like to invite you to attend a short ceremony this afternoon . . . to watch the European flag being raised, in honour of all European citizens, resident in Edinburgh.”

Council staff also stressed that the flag was flown to mark a meeting between Councillor Wilson, who is the city council’s Labour member for Sighthill-Gorgie, and the new Czech ambassador.

The ceremony was held as it emerged Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale would issue a call for the country to come to terms with the “deep divisions” opened up by the Brexit vote.

In a speech which she is due to make in Edinburgh this morning, Ms Dugdale will make clear that, while she does not agree with the arguments made by Brexit campaigners, there has been no attempt so far to reach out to Leave supporters.

Ms Dugdale will also say the Labour Party “needs to recognise that it wasn’t just disenchantment with the Tory party that brought this leave result home”.

Instead she will claim the shock result stemmed from a “disdain for an entire political class who look out of touch, elitist, deaf to the concerns that people are raising and with no answers to the big challenges our country is facing”.

She will go on to say that she can “no more ignore the concerns of people who voted Leave than I would ignore the concerns of someone who voted Yes” in the 2014 independence referendum.

Ms Dugdale will continue: “The places where high Leave votes were found in Scotland are some of the poorest communities in our country. Many of them are also places that voted in large numbers for Yes in the Scottish referendum.

“For example, in the east end of Glasgow, 44 per cent of people voted Leave. Politicians of every party in Scotland need to face up to the fact that we are not immune to the deep divisions that made people vote Leave in England and Wales.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com