Sadiq Khan calls for ‘youth mobility agreement’ around EU countries and suggests UK should rejoin customs union

20 January 2024, 23:35 | Updated: 20 January 2024, 23:53

London Mayor Sadiq Khan during his speech to the Fabian Society conference in central London. Picture date: Saturday January 20, 2024.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan during his speech to the Fabian Society conference in central London. Picture date: Saturday January 20, 2024. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

Sadiq Khan has called for young people to be freed from European Union travel restrictions, arguing a 'youth mobility agreement' needs to be implemented when the Brexit deal comes up for review in 2024.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

London's Mayor, who supported the Remain Campaign in the 2016 Brexit referendum, said there needed to be a bespoke new scheme to allow young people to move between EU countries and amend visa rules.

Mr Khan criticised the Conservative government's "extreme hard Brexit", and also appeared to hit out at Labour's "omerta", or pact of silence, preventing the party from discussing potential economic reintegration with Brussels.

The Labour mayor is seeking a third terms when London heads to the polls in May's mayoral election, where he will stand against Conservative Susan Hall. Mr Khan is expected to again win convincingly.

In a statement first reported by the Observer, Mr Khan said re-entering the customs union should be on the table when the Brexit deal with the EU comes up for review in 2024. He noted London had been particularly hampered by Brexit.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaking at the 2024 Fabian Society New Year Conference, at Guildhall in London
London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaking at the 2024 Fabian Society New Year Conference, at Guildhall in London. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Sunak ‘not available’ for talks with Drakeford on steel job losses

Read More: Chancellor promises tax cuts ahead of March 6 Budget as Conservatives look to improve grave election hopes

"The Government's hard Brexit has done damage right across London, and it is young people who have been hardest hit in so many ways.

"Not only is it more difficult for young people to move abroad for work but the Government's wrongheaded decision to leave the Erasmus scheme has made it much harder for students to study abroad too.

"I'm clear that I'd be supportive of a youth mobility scheme, which would benefit us economically, culturally and socially. While the UK may no longer be part of the EU, London is and always will be a European city."

The mayor wants young people to be able to study, travel and fill vacancies in key sectors of the economy such as hospitality, which has historically relied on EU workers and has faced staff shortages.

Earlier on Saturday, Mr Khan said "let's have the conversation" about steps to align with the bloc.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaking at the 2024 Fabian Society New Year Conference, at Guildhall in London.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaking at the 2024 Fabian Society New Year Conference, at Guildhall in London. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Starmer vows to ‘fight fire with fire’ in general election against Conservatives after Sunak quelled talk of May poll

Read More: Veteran Labour MP Sir Tony Lloyd dies aged 73 after revealing leukemia diagnosis

He told the Fabian Society conference in London: "I'm not saying today we should rejoin the European Union. What I'm saying is that (shadow foreign secretary) David Lammy is on to something when he's saying we should have a closer relationship with the European Union."

He then suggested there is a code of silence meaning "you can't talk about being close to the European Union, joining the single market, joining the customs union".

He said "the economic cost of this extreme hard Brexit is huge", pointing to a Cambridge Econometrics study which found that it has already cost the UK economy £140 billion and London £30 billion.

Mr Khan also said Rishi Sunak's Government is using its Rwanda deportation plan "in the same way they used Brexit - as a deflection of all the problems they've caused to our country".

He called for the Labour Party to "speak up" on the benefits of immigration and diversity.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Phillips headshot

Mystery of 'Bushman' dad-of-three who went missing with children - before robbing bank at gunpoint

The PM accused Sir Keir of trying to "entrench his power" by lowering the voting age

Rishi Sunak accuses Keir Starmer of only wanting to lower voting age to 'entrench his power'

Pressure signals could be used to locate the missing plane

Major breakthrough in MH370 mystery as nuclear sensor picks up crucial sound

Sir Ian McKellen was taken to hospital after he fell from the stage during a West End performance

Sir Ian McKellen 'in good spirits' and expected to make 'speedy and full recovery' after falling off stage

Sir Ian McKellen has been taken to hospital after he fell from the stage during a West End performance

Sir Ian McKellen rushed to hospital after falling off stage during West End performance

Dario G star Paul Spencer

Dario G star Paul Spencer dies aged 53 following cancer diagnosis

Reform chairman Richard Tice was speaking on Tonight with Andrew Marr.

'Take them back to France': Reform will have 'standoff' with French over illegal migrants if needed, says Richard Tice

The teen was helping cut the tree down as a summer job.

Pictured: Boy, 16, crushed by 30ft tree just a day after finishing final GCSE exam - as three arrested

Police hunt 21-year-old man following death of boy, 12 in shocking hit-and-run

Manhunt for Coventry hit-and-run suspect continues following death of boy, 12, as police urge public to 'do the right thing'

Parts of the UK face severe rainfall next week, dramatic weather maps suggest

Thunderstorms set to drench Britain with 10 days worth of rain failing in just three hours

Fury erupted after the cow was rammed by a police car

Let us not be hypocrites when we look at the shocking case of the runaway cow

'I didn't expect to die today': Heartbreaking film hopes to keep teenagers out of open water danger

'I didn't expect to die today': Heartbreaking film hopes to keep teenagers out of open water danger

Prince William seen at a procession for the annual Garter Day service

William beams during Order of the Garter procession as royals join King and Queen at Windsor Castle

The parkour runner damaged the UNESCO World Heritage Site building in Italy in a parkour stunt

Shocking footage captures parkour runner damaging UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy

Defendant Josef Fritzl, center, is escorted to the fourth day of his trial in the provincial courthouse in St. Poelten, Austria, Thursday, March 19, 2009.

Incest monster Josef Fritzl placed under legal guardianship amid worsening dementia

Rod Stewart (pictured on stage in Copenhagen on Sunday June 9) was booed by German fans for supporting Ukraine

Rod Stewart defends show of support for Ukraine after booing at Germany concert