Brexit is the biggest challenge facing London, ahead of pollution and housing, says Sadiq Khan

Sadiq Khan said responding to the impact of Brexit is the “biggest challenge facing London” and trumped other priorities for City Hall.

In an interview with the Standard, the Mayor spoke of his realisation of how the negative impact of Brexit would “permeate” throughout the capital’s economy and public services.

He also revealed that the Irish prime minister, whom he met yesterday, warned the UK there was no alternative departure deal on offer from the EU and the “best thing all round would be if we weren’t leaving the EU”.

Mr Khan yesterday became the first London mayor to pay an official visit to the Irish capital, as part of efforts to maintain links with other EU cities after Brexit.

He said to a meeting of business leaders in Dublin: “When I became Mayor in 2016 I knew that my city had big challenges ahead, from poor air quality to a lack of affordable housing. But it’s now clear that the biggest challenge facing London, and in some respects many cities in Europe, is Brexit.”

He told the Standard that many EU citizens employed in key public services, such as the NHS and social care, were considering whether to leave the UK.

“When I was running for election we didn’t foresee leaving the European Union, particularly in the way the Prime Minister is leading us towards. What is clear to me is that the consequences of leaving the EU without a deal are catastrophic,” he said.

Referring to his policies to reduce deaths caused by toxic air and road collisions, he said: “I don’t think you can equate loss of life with anything … but I don’t think people realise how Brexit permeates through everything. There is no industry that isn’t impacted by Brexit.”

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told Mr Khan that there was no alternative exit deal on offer from the EU.

“He is quite clear that EU 27 stand together, that in relation to the deal the EU did, it is the only deal there is,” Mr Khan said.

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