MPs left speechless by Hammersmith council’s £27k EU flag bill
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Marie Caulfield, Tory MP for Lewes since 2015, was pictured with her mouth wide open in stunned silence when the Prime Minister elaborated on Hammersmith council’s extortionate spending after Brexit on pro-EU flags. Mr Johnson went on to list other ill-thought programmes, such as in Labour-run Nottingham and Croydon, that drove their budgets into the ground, before applauding Tory-led Westminster Council for the lowest council taxes in the country.
The Prime Minister said: “Mr Speaker, I’ve listened to [Sir Keir Starmer] for many weeks and years and I can say that this guy is doomed to be a permanent spectator.
“We have a plan to fix the NHS and social care; they have no plan. We have a plan to fix our borders with our deal with Rwanda; they have no plan. We have a plan to take our economy forward; they have no plan.
“Let me tell you something, Mr Speaker, [Sir Keir] talks about the elections in a few days time.
“Let me remind him that everywhere you look at Labour administrations, it is a bankrupt shambles.
“Labour-run Hammersmith spent £27,000 on EU flags after the referendum. Labour-run Nottingham council bankrupt because of some communist energy plan.
“This is the kind that [Sir Keir] now favours and should apologise for. Labour-run Croydon bankrupt because of their dodgy property deals.
“And never forget Labour-run Britain, in 2010, bankrupt because of what the Labour government did. They said they had no money left.
“Look at council tax. [Sir Keir] boasts he lives in Islington or Camden, or some place like that. He should contrast neighbouring Westminster, which has the lowest council tax in the country, and better services, too.”
Mr Johnson added finally: “That’s the difference between Labour and Conservative across the country, Mr Speaker. Vote Conservtaive on the fifth of May.”
The PM was referencing, among other examples, a Hammersmith and Fulham council action of hanging signs from lamp posts across the borough in 2019 declaring the authority as “proud members of the EU”.
The blue posters depicted the Brussels emblem of a circle of 12 yellow stars. Other banners showed an EU flag with a red heart in the middle. It stated: “Home is where your heart is. Secure your right to stay.”
The council insisted the 2019 scheme was intended to encourage EU citizens to register for settled status, but many of the posters contained no direct reference to that issue.
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Defending the flags, a council spokesman said: “The vast majority of EU residents who have settled in Hammersmith and Fulham are essential workers in our NHS, care services and economy and we’d like them to stay, so the banners clearly send that message.
“They cost £27,000 which is a small figure in comparison to the huge costs taxpayers will have to bear if these essential workers don’t get settled status.”
But the spending came under fierce criticism, with some suggesting that the council was misspending taxpayer money and “electioneering” ahead of a potential general election.
Tory Greg Hands, Chelsea and Fulham MP, said: “They’ve shown up to the campaign three and a half years too late, and misspending taxpayers’ money in October 2019 won’t change a single vote in June 2016.”
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