Siobhan Benita says London is resilient and brilliant – as she calls for a London visa to help maintain its leading global position post Brexit


LibDem Mayoral contender Siobhan Benita is calling for London to have its own visa as part of the Conservative Government’s new immigration system – and says she’ll set up an international trade team in City Hall with a department dedicated to building better trade links across the globe. 

In a speech in the City on the day Britain leaves the EU, Benita says:

“On a personal level, as a pro-European married to a Frenchman, it’s a day I never wanted to see. But as a potential Mayor of London, it’s a reality I accept and my entire focus now is on ensuring our capital remains the best city in the world for business, investment, tourism and its residents.”

She announced she would create innovation incubators and have deeper twinning between London boroughs and European cities, and she’ll highlight how the capital’s “social, green and ethical values” meant it had the potential to become “the go-to city for the very latest in environmental thinking and good practice.   She flags up the importance of London’s fun side to its economy – the nighttime, sporting, cultural and gastro scenes. And says she wanted London to be “an even stronger magnet for all, from foodies to fitness fans, from clubbers to culture vultures.”

Benita talks about the serious concern of business communities that “Brexit will make it harder to recruit talent into the capital” and called for a London Visa:

“The Mayor would be able to take account of the specific needs of the capital and welcome the talent we need. All sectors of London’s economy rely heavily on immigration both from the EU and the rest of the world.  That’s as true of professional, specialist jobs in the city as it is of lower-paid workers in the hospitality, construction and care systems.  Lower migration for lower growth is not an outcome I’m prepared to accept for London. And it’s imperative that the Conservative Government scraps the proposed minimum salary cap or faces the consequences of strangling key sectors of London’s economy.”

She criticises the current mayor Sadiq Khan for failing London on the basics: 

I want to make sure London is the city of choice for today’s dynamic and international workforce. At a minimum we must get the basics right – safer streets, better policing, cleaner air, reliable and accessible transport and affordable housing within commuting distance.  Our city must become more livable than it is today. Sadly the current Mayor hasn’t delivered the basics for London. He’s big on words but short on action.”

She also attacks the government for its contemptuous treatment of the one million EU citizens who live and work in London and whose contribution is so critical to a thriving city:

“I will be their voice ensuring their rights are protected and their concerns are heard during the transition period and negotiations ahead. If not, we risk the flow of EU citizens back to mainland Europe turning into a flood.”

She predicts London’s future can be bright but only with the right leadership from City Hall, an implicit dig at the current Mayor Sadiq Khan:

“As London opens a new chapter, we need to remember our capital is resilient, brilliant and full of potential. And with the right leadership from City Hall – if we have an energetic and bold Mayor offering smart policies and being an effective cheerleader for London on the international and domestic stage – we will have the best chance of maintaining our status as a global leader.”