Edinburgh Council’s Brexit committee did not meet for a year

Hundreds of campaigners have attended a rally in Festival Square, Edinburgh as they stepped up demands for a public vote on the final Brexit deal. Picture; PA
Hundreds of campaigners have attended a rally in Festival Square, Edinburgh as they stepped up demands for a public vote on the final Brexit deal. Picture; PA
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TORIES have blasted the city’s SNP-Labour administration after it emerged the council’s Brexit working group has not met in the past year despite frequent comments from senior councillors on the impact quitting the EU will have on the Capital.

The seven-strong group with representatives from all parties has just been reappointed, but officials admitted it had failed to meet even once during 2017/18.

Tory group chairman Councillor Jason Rust said it was difficult to understand why the group, originally set up under the previous council administration, had been left dormant while council leader Adam McVey and colleagues regularly posted on social media about the problems Brexit would create.

Cllr Rust said: “Only a few days ago the council leader was tweeting about ‘continuing to speak out about the problems #Brexitchaos is 
causing our public services’ and yet we learn that since this council was formed the working group specifically dedicated to looking at the impact of Brexit on the council workforce and on council projects and service delivery has never once met.

“It is easy to pontificate and grandstand, but very difficult to comprehend why a group set up specifically to look at the implications of Brexit for 
Edinburgh has been sitting in abeyance and not met. Once again, this belies the hollow rhetoric and lack of action from this council.”

Cllr McVey said the working group had not met because the UK Government had failed to give any clarity about key issues. He said: “The UK Government has been an absolute calamity on Brexit. Even now we do not have a clear picture.

“What the Conservatives seem to be saying is we should have been meeting to scenario plan the literally hundreds of scenarios which might have come about. I don’t think that would have been an appropriate use of our time.

“The Conservative government has been so incompetent that we are still in the position of not knowing what Brexit will mean for Edinburgh businesses and residents.”

He said it was hypocritical for the Tories to criticise the lack of working group 
meetings when they had opposed a motion last year about writing to the Government asking for clarity on the position of EU nationals living here.

Cllr McVey said the working group had now been asked to look at specifics of what the council can do to support EU nationals. “As more details emerge, the working group will meet to look at how we respond in terms of the economy, inward investment and a host of other issues,” he said.

Cllr McVey said more than 39,000 EU nationals live in Edinburgh and about 1000 worked for the council.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com