Residents and business owners met to discuss their fears over Brexit last week – but none of the councillors who were invited to the event turned up.

People attending a meeting organised by the London School of Economics (LSE) said they feared businesses and public services faced a gradual decline due to Brexit – with some warning it had already begun.

And there were fears that the local authority, already battered by austerity, would not be able to stump up the extra cash needed to fund public services.

But although the organisers had invited more than 10 councillors from both Labour and the Conservative groups to the meeting, none of them attended.

The event was held at the Patisserie Joie de Vie on Barnet High Street on Friday (September 28) to coincide with the launch of an LSE report on the effects of Brexit in Barnet.

Ouamar Madjid, who owns the patisserie, said: “The impact is the tariff. If there is a tariff between the UK and the EU, it will have a huge impact on prices.

“I get 90 per cent of my ingredients from France. If we are crashing out with nothing, a lot of businesses will close down. We can’t wait one month to get some of our stuff.

“They will close us slowly – not straight away. We will be dying slowly.”

Nik Haidar, director at Four23 Management, said his business – which helps technology firms to expand – was already feeling the impact of Brexit.

He said a Chinese company that was poised to invest in one of their UK partners had opted to put money into a Spanish firm instead due to Brexit.

Mr Haidar added that the firms he works with can no longer access money from Horizon 2020 – a European fund set up to back high-tech start-ups.

He said: “We had to lay off a person who was one of our researchers.

“We are going to die slowly, but it has already started.”

Fears were also expressed about the impact of Brexit on public services.

Former civil servant Rashida Laca said: “I have a huge concern, as I am a patient at the hospital. Every four weeks, I have to go and have an infusion. I said, ‘where is it made?’ They said, ‘it is Roche’ (a Swiss pharmaceutical firm).

“After March, will I still have my medication? I said, ‘are you stockpiling?’ They laughed and did not tell me anything. I am concerned.”

Mr Haidar said: “My wife is chair of governors at a local primary school. There are teachers who are EU nationals. At the moment, no-one can tell them what their status is going to be on March 30.

“There is a very real chance those teachers who are teaching our children will be illegal immigrants through no fault of their own.

“There are a number of pupils who will potentially be in the same situation.

“We know for a fact there will be less funding for councils, for all that they do. We should assume less money going into schools – and they are already underfunded.”


Local business owner David Webb, who is also a member of Chipping Barnet for Europe, said: “Regardless of what kind of Brexit we have, we are going to have to divert massive resources to reengineering the economy.

“The money being spent on the Department for Exiting the EU is money not spent on local schools, hospitals, social care and all the other things we care about.

“People said the world would fall down immediately after the vote. What is much more likely is this gradual crumbling away – a loss of community cohesion, a loss of infrastructure and a loss of opportunity.”

Mr Haidar said the council could be doing more to ensure local people are prepared for Brexit.

Mr Webb said: “Barnet Council is deeply in trouble in terms of resources. They are not going to set up a planning unit to be blue-sky thinking about the possible impact of Brexit.”

Barnet Council publishes an annual report on the probable impact of Brexit on the borough.

Burnt Oak resident Ben Samuels added: “In Edgware, there are three councillors who are working hard for the local area.

“They have six priorities, but none of them is Brexit – and that is really not acceptable.”