Sadiq Khan tells London's Europeans they remain welcome

Sadiq Khan MP

Sadiq Khan has told the one million Europeans who live in London that they remain welcome despite Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

The mayor, speaking at the capital’s Pride festival on Saturday afternoon, said the city was grateful for the enormous contribution made by Europeans and said that would not change despite the referendum result.

Khan said he was “exploring every avenue” to ensure London could remain in the single market following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, in order to protect jobs and investment.

“London needs to be represented at the negotiating table when it comes to any deal with the EU,” he said.

The Labour mayor urged his party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to recognise that the country had been left divided in the wake of the EU vote and that he must help “heal those rifts”.

Corbyn, who also attended the Pride march, was heckled by a Labour activist who angrily called for his resignation for his failure to win broader support for the remain campaign in the north of England, the Midlands and Wales.

Corbyn heckled at gay pride in London

Labour party member Tom Mauchline shouted: “It’s your fault, Jeremy. When are you resigning? You need to resign.”

Corbyn replied: “I did all I could.”

Mauchline later said that Corbyn’s attendance at Pride “seemed like a cynical attempt to use the LGBT community to shore up his weak leadership”.

Pride in London is being held less than two weeks after the massacre of 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando. Khan said there had been a rise in homophobic attacks in London in the past year and the attack on the Pulse nightclub meant there was no room for complacency.

The Stonewall chief executive, Ruth Hunt, said the organisation was concerned about the impact that a UK withdrawal from the EU would have on the LGBT community in Britain. “Stonewall will be focusing on how any changes in the coming months and years affect the rights and equality of LGBT people,” she said.

Tens of thousands of people were marching from Oxford Circus to Whitehall in central London on Saturday to show their support for the LGBT community.

Georges Peters from Belgium said he felt Friday was a “black day” for Europe.

Flying the flag of his nation, the 44-year-old said: “I was very disappointed about the vote. I think this is bad for the economy and it’s important that we stand together. I have friends from other parts of Europe who live in the UK and they are saying it’s very sad, it’s a black day in the history of Europe.”

Irishman Antaine O’Briain said he was worried the vote could lead to referendums in other EU countries.

The 51-year-old from Dublin, who lives in London, said: “As far as the referendum’s concerned I’m actually shocked and horrified, and I’m quite nervous about the future of the UK and obviously of the Republic of Ireland, being that we are very close neighbours. We trade a lot.

“So I’m wondering if a referendum is going to be called for in Ireland also. I hope it doesn’t break up with the union because we are stronger together. I was a remain voter and I hope things work out in the end.”

Stonewall’s Hunt said the massacre has sent a clear signal to all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people and their allies that there is so much work left to do. “This means that it is a particularly poignant Pride in London for many. It will be a day of strength, solidarity, hope and reflection, and a celebration of the wonderful and diverse LGBT community,” she said.

Matthew Hodson, the chief executive of the GMFA charity, said events such as the Pulse nightclub killings underlined the challenge that LGBT people still faced for acceptance and equality around the world.

He added: “We cannot have equality until we have equality of health and that’s why GMFA is proud to be marching today with our our colleagues at organisations including the Terrence Higgins Trust and the National Aids Trust.”

Commander Mak Chishty of the Metropolitan police said this week there was no intelligence to suggest an increased threat to the Pride parade. “The security plan has been reviewed and the situation is continuously monitored and remains under review,” he said in a joint statement with Michael Salter-Church, chair of Pride in London.

However, there will be an increased visible policing presence at the parade and in Soho, along with additional stewards. More than 100 officers from the Metropolitan police and other forces from around the UK will march in the parade.

A record 293 groups are registered to take part in the parade, which organisers said “sends a clear message about how important Pride still is for people to campaign, celebrate and commemorate”. There will also be 64 floats.

For the first time, there will be announcement podiums along the parade route to give information about the groups to spectators. The parade starts at 1pm and entertainment and speeches will continue in Trafalgar Square until 8pm.

A Pride march is also taking place in Dublin on Saturday. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010