City leaders met at Highbury in preparation to Brexit

Leaders from the UK’s core cities met on 27th January at Highbury Hall, Chamberlain’s former home, to discuss how cities could respond to the Brexit vote.

Core Cites UK is made up of Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield, and together they represent a quarter of the UK economy.

Following the meeting, Core Cities UK chair and leader of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake, said that cities needed powers to replicate Chamberlain’s revolutionary work.

As mayor of Birmingham from 1873 to 1876, Chamberlain undertook a series of improvements to the city, including building schools, swimming pools and libraries, and improving utilities.

“Post Brexit, our cities will be more important than ever,” Blake said. “We have come together in Birmingham to remind the government that our cities will be key to UK success in the future. It is only by giving more power to place that we can grow our country’s productivity and create real economic growth that means no-one is left behind.”

The group has previously called for additional authority for cities, including greater fiscal powers and the introduction of community budgets for public spending.

“It is fitting that our meeting today took place at Highbury Hall,” Blake stated. “Joseph Chamberlain invented the concept of modern city government in the UK and was largely responsible for Birmingham’s success in the Victorian era. As a new generation of city leaders, we are determined to follow up on his legacy, building successful, inclusive places that fulfil their vast potential.”

The think-tank Centre for Cities published a report which claimed that the European Union was the largest export destination for 61 out of 62 cities in the UK. It urged the government to prioritise brokering a trade deal in negotiations with the bloc, in order to ensure cities remained prosperous after Brexit.

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