In the aftermath of the #Brexit referendum, which saw the U.K. decide to leave the European Union, one British leader is making it clear that he does not support the anti-immigrant sentiment that marked the campaign for the split.
London's recently elected mayor Sadiq Khan was vocally opposed to the U.K. leaving the E.U. throughout his campaign and his election. Today, he posted a message on his Facebook page that's being shared by Londoners and others in the U.K. who want to reaffirm that he believes the U.K., and especially London, are multicultural hubs where diversity is welcome and valued:
"I want to send a clear message to every European resident living in London—you are very welcome here," Khan wrote. "As a city, we are grateful for the enormous contribution you make, and that will not change as a result of this referendum."
More than 40% of London's population is non-white, compared to around 17% in the rest of England and Wales, according to the latest figures from the 2011 census. And at least 840,000 Londoners were born in other parts of the E.U., according to the Financial Times. And around 37% of people living in London were born outside the U.K., compared with 13% for the U.K. overall.
“Half a million jobs in London directly depend on Europe,” Khan wrote in an op-ed for The Standard in February. “As a city we export more than £12 billion a year to Europe, and London is home to the European HQ of 60 per cent of the world’s non-European global businesses. Access to EU markets is crucial to the success of the City of London. That’s why the prospect of Britain leaving Europe is so catastrophic.”
Some Londoners commented on Khan's post saying that they'd be starting a petition for London to be independent from the U.K. and remain in the E.U.: "We are starting a campaign to make London independent," wrote one man. "We as a city want to remain, why should we be held hostage by England? I hope you listen to us Sadiq."
While that might not be a real possibility, the sentiment is clear: many Londoners feel like they are part of Europe, and today, maybe even more than they feel like they're part of the U.K.