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Councillor leading Islington's no deal Brexit preparations blast absence of Government plan as 'devastating' exit looms

PUBLISHED: 17:33 14 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:27 15 August 2019

Islington Town Hall. Picture:Ken Mears

Islington Town Hall. Picture:Ken Mears

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The councillor leading Islington's preparations for a no deal exit from the European Union on October 31 has urged the Government to "get its act together and tell us what Brexit will look like".

Cllr Una OHalloran.Cllr Una OHalloran.

Earlier this month, the new secretary of state for housing, communities and local government Robert Jenrick told all councils to designate a Brexit lead, tasked with preparing for Britain's departure from the EU without a deal on October 31.

But Islington's community chief Cllr Una O'Halloran, who's taken the post, believes inadequate planning by central government over since June 2016 means accountability is now being palmed off onto local authorities.

She told the Gazette: "It's unacceptable that, three years on from the referendum, the Government still hasn't got its act together and can't tell us what Brexit may look like, if it happens at all.

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"It's obvious that a no deal scenario would be devastating for the country and the uncertainty of what 'no deal' could mean for local people is a real challenge."

She said the town hall has been considering the impact leaving the EU may have on Islington for months, leading it to convene a Brexit Resilience Group to prepare for challenges around the cost of labour, goods, services and more funding cuts from central government. She said another "key focus" has been raising awareness of the EU Settlement Scheme, which allows people who are originally from the EU to apply to continue living and working in the UK post-Brexit.

Cllr O'Halloran said she's also "really proud" of the town hall's "we are Islington campaign", which celebrates the contributions made by EU nationals living in Islington.

She added: "Despite all this, we still do not know the full impact that Brexit, or a 'no deal' exit, will have on Islington. Work is being conducted in preparation of worst case scenarios, but frankly it's about time that the Government gave us the clarity Islington urgently needs." In March, Islington Council rated Brexit as the biggest threat to the borough for the coming year.

Mr Jerick has said "from Whitehall to town halls - everyone needs to be ready to fulfil our democratic mandate to leave the European Union by the end of October. Local government has vital role to play in making Brexit a success." The cabinet office has been approached for comment.

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