Sadiq Khan provokes Brexiters with pro-EU fireworks display

Mayor’s New Year’ Eve even where he emphasized the city’s openness to Europeans has triggers the proponents of Brexit.

Khan included the pro-EU message in the New Year’s Eve fireworks display in London, which didn’t go down well with the Leavers.

The mayor hailed the event, in which the London Eye was lit up in the blue-and-yellow colours of the EU flag, as part of a wider message to Europe showing the capital would stay “open-minded” and “outward looking” after Brexit.

As the fireworks went off along the Thames, the words “London is open” were said in English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Romanian and Spanish just after midnight.

The phrase is often used by the Labour mayor, who opposes Brexit and has called for a second referendum. The event also featured music performances by European artists.

“We, in my opinion, are one of the greatest cities in the world; one of the reasons we are one of the greatest cities in the world is because of the contribution made by Europeans,” Khan said just before the display. “I think diversity is a strength and I think what tonight is about is celebrating that diversity.”

The display was, about “showing the world, while they’re watching us, that we’re going to carry on being open-minded, outward looking, pluralistic” the mayor said.

In a tweet after the display, the mayor said: “Our one million EU citizens are Londoners, they make a huge contribution, and no matter the outcome of Brexit, they will always be welcome.”

While the sentiment might be popular with many Londoners, given the capital voted strongly in favour of staying in the EU, the display brought condemnation from militant Brexiters.

The Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said the message had been “a betrayal of democracy”, telling the Sun: “It’s low, it’s very low to politicise what is an international public event.”

Roger Helmer, a former Conservative MEP who defected to Ukip, tweeted: “While the UK is locked in critical negotiations with Brussels, Sadiq Khan chooses to display the other side’s flag on the London Eye. Would he have shown an Argentinian flag during the Falklands War?”

The annual display was paid for by £2.3m in funding from the Greater London Authority, offset by revenue from 100,000 ticket sales.

Updated: January 1, 2019 — 4:12 pm

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