THE LEADER of the city council will write to the UK Government setting out the “incredibly detrimental” impact Brexit could have on the Capital – as Tories labelled an 80-minute debate “a waste of taxpayers’ money”.
SNP leader of the authority, Cllr Adam McVey, will write to Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay “expressing the council’s position regarding the UK’s relationship with the EU, setting out concerns about labour supply if Brexit occurs in the form proposed by the UK Government, opposing any costs charged to EU nationals through the settled and pre-settled status applications”.
Around 39,000 non-UK EU nationals currently live in Edinburgh.
Cllr McVey gained cross-party support from Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Greens – but was lambasted by Conservatives who called for the administration to focus on providing services to the people of Edinburgh.
Cllr McVey also spoke out in favour of a People’s Vote.
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He said: “The EU has said quite clearly that they are happy for the UK to do a helpful u-turn and go back to a position where we retain our EU citizenship.
“It seems to me patiently sensible that 74.4 per cent of people in this city who already voted remain should have the opportunity to re-assert that voice. The 25 per cent who voted leave should have the chance to think again with the facts put to them.”
Liberal Democrat Cllr Kevin Lang labelled Brexit as “the biggest issue facing this city and facing our country today”.
He added: “Brexit is going to have a fundamental impact upon this city and this local authority and how we serve this city.
“You look at the economy on which our success depends – tourism, financial services – all of these are going to be impacted, particularly if we end up with a no deal scenario.”
Conservative Cllr Nick Cook hit out at the lengthy debate, branding the discussion a “waste of taxpayers’ money that could be spent better supporting other public services”.
He added: “It’s a disgrace that health and social care in this city is in the state that it’s in and here we are wasting time on Brexit.
“Our job here is to look after this city and the local services that this council is here to deliver – it’s not to waste time on motions like this.”
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The council’s housing and economy convener, Cllr Kate Campbell, hit back at Cllr Cook – saying the authority had a duty to stand up for residents.
She said: “Brexit is pushing up the cost of house-building, the importing of materials and having an impact on the skilled labour supplies.
“Brexit is absolutely our business and standing up for our constituents is certainly our job.”
Independent Cllr Ashley Graczyk, who tabled a separate motion calling for public support for a People’s Vote, said EU nationals in her constituency had been “completely destabilised” since the 2016 referendum.
She added: “I find it disgraceful that people who have made Scotland their home now face horrendous application process to be allowed to continue to call Scotland their home.
“I think we should have a People’s Vote on the final deal – a vote that allows the public to have a say about what leaving the European Union actually entails.”
Green Cllr Chas Booth also backed calls for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.
He said: “We support the call for a People’s Vote and we believe that Brexit is disastrous for our country and our city and must be reversed.”
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