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Council appoints Brexit officer to assess impact on Southwark

The council has appointed a Brexit officer to look at how leaving the EU would impact the local economy and the legal status of Southwark’s EU nationals.

The role was given to Stephen Douglass, who has been Southwark’s director of communities since 2015, and first joined the council in 1999.

Leader of the council Peter John told the News: “Brexit will impact in many ways on Southwark, and the work of the council, and it’s important we are alive to all emerging issues or opportunities.

“I have asked our director of communities to keep an eye on any developments that might impact on the local economy and the rights of EU nationals working and living in Southwark.

“As ever, our main concern is ensuring local people have every opportunity available to them, and that Southwark remains united despite our departure from the EU.”

Cllr John had also recently commented that Brexit could pose a “big threat” to house building and regeneration in the borough.

Council leader Peter John

Speaking at an Overview and Scrutiny Meeting on April 19, he said it could mean losing 60,000 EU nationals from the capital’s construction work force.

“It makes me worry,” he said, “because there is a reliance on EU labour to provide our housing construction. There’s no evidence that if you remove it we could replace it sufficiently quickly.

“But we have a section of the work force [who are] set to retire in the next five years.

“There could be a perfect storm in a few years, because even if you’ve got the money, you’ve not got the skills, which is just exacerbating an existing threat. Even before Brexit people were thinking ‘what are we going to do when these people retire’?

“I think in terms of Southwark as a borough, the challenges are greater than the opportunities, and it seems like a high price to pay.

“To kick someone out just to give someone local a job, I don’t think that’s how we would like to see our employment problems resolved.

“To be realistic there are real challenges, and that’s beside the social impact of us all having neighbours, friends and colleagues who are EU nationals.”



  1. What a pointless ‘tick in the box’ appointment by the council. What exactly is this person going to do whilst the terms of Brexit are being negotiated over the next 2 years (minimum)?

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