LONDON: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is to embark on a “Brexit grand tour” of five European capitals just days after Theresa May triggers Britain’s departure from the EU. The Mayor will visit Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Madrid and Warsaw this spring to make the case for London before the official Brexit negotiations start. His six-day tour includes meetings with senior politicians, city leaders and business chiefs. City Hall hope it will boost economic and cultural ties. He will go with the message that London’s links with the rest of the EU will be “more important than ever before” after the UK finally leaves the bloc. Mr Khan will use his tour to hammer home his mantra “London is open” and continues to welcome people from all over the world to work, study or visit. He will meet senior EU representatives in Brussels and deliver a major speech setting out London’s requirements from the Brexit negotiations. Talks with mayors will cover key topics the capitals have in common, including air quality, finance and the need for greater social integration. There will also be discussions on security co-operation after leaving the EU to help keep London and Europe safe from further terrorist attacks. Mr Khan will tell business leaders on the trip that despite Brexit London will remain the “best city in the world” for business. He said: “I want to take the message directly to Europe that London will always remain open to engaging, trading and doing business with our friends across the Continent.
“Our connections on the Continent are more important than ever before and, regardless of Brexit, we will continue to work closely together for our mutual benefit. “I vowed to be the most pro-business mayor this city has ever seen and it is vital that we demonstrate to our partners overseas that despite Brexit we remain open to business, investment, talent and ideas. “London will remain the best place in the world to do business and our collaboration with other major European cities won’t cease.” Mr Khan travelled to North America last September in an attempt to boost business and political links. But he was criticised after he returned from the 8,000-mile, £39,000 trip with seven aides with no binding deals signed. A spokesman for the Mayor said: “As a direct consequence of the visit several of the companies on the trip are now negotiating deals with major US clients and one London business has already doubled its US revenue. “More than 200 companies have enrolled on the Mayor’s International Business Programme since May, receiving £57.25 million worth of investment and creating 400 additional jobs for London’s economy.”