A public meeting set up by the civil rights group New Europeans to allow EU citizens in London to question mayoral candidates in the forthcoming London elections has been postponed due to the coronavirus crisis.
Speaking in London, Tamara Flanagan OBE, Head of Projects at New Europeans said:
"Given the indication by the government that their focus is now moving towards delaying the spread of coronavirus as far as possible, we have reluctantly decided to cancel the hustings meeting we had planned to take place at the Scalabrini Centre in Brixton on Wednesday 18 March.
We are making arrangements for European citizens from all over London to have the chance to raise issues with the candidates in April, subject to further announcements from the government in light of the developing situation."
EU citizens had been due to hear from candidates such as Sîan Berry of the Greens and Siobhan Benita of the Liberal Democrats as well as Wes Streeting MP representing Mayor Sadiq Khan for Labour.
Shaun Bailey of the Conservatives and Rory Stewart who is standing as an independent had yet to confirm their attendance.
Else Kvist, a Danish citizen who has lived in London for 28 years, said:
"Like many EU citizens, I was really looking forward to putting my questions to the candidates. I was one of the EU citizens living in London, who were denied our vote in the UK's last EU elections. And Brexit has really put our status in limbo, so it is really nice to feel that our voice matters and that we are Londoners too."
The hustings meetings are part of a project supported by Trust for London to promote participation in the London elections by EU citizens. Podcasts with individual candidates are also planned.
In addition to the face-to-face meetings with candidates, New Europeans is also running a survey of EU citizens in London to find out what their key priorities are for shaping the work of the next London Mayor and Assembly.
Speaking about the project, New Europeans CEO and founder, Roger Casale said:
"There are hundreds of thousands of EU citizens in London and they are all eligible to vote in the London elections. Apart from local council elections, this the first time since the referendum that EU citizens have had the chance to properly make their voices heard. We want to encourage and help EU Londoners to do just that."
Over 1.7m EU citizens in the UK were denied a vote in last year's European elections as a result of a systematic failure by the UK government to make adequate provisions for those elections.
The London elections take place on Thursday, 7 May -and the last date to register to take part in those elections is Tuesday, 21 April.
The New Europeans survey of EU Londoners is available here.
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