Most residents “do not bring Brexit up” on the doorstep and do not share councillors’ “obsession” with the issue.

That was the view of Barnet Council leader Cllr Dan Thomas (Conservative) during a heated exchange of opinions on the local authority’s readiness for leaving the European Union.

He made the claim at a meeting of the policy and resources committee on Thursday (October 3).

During the meeting, Cllr Gabriel Rozenberg, (Lib Dem), Garden Suburb, – who recently defected to the Liberal Democrats from the Tories – joined Labour councillors in warning that the council was not ready for Brexit.

But Cllr Thomas accused his critics of mixing up national and local issues, suggesting opposition members of the committee were out of step with public opinion.

He said: “Residents do not share this obsession with Brexit that most members of this committee do. I have knocked on more doors than most people in this room, and nobody brings it up.”

In the 2016 referendum on EU membership, 62 per cent of voters in Barnet voted to remain.

Cllr Rozenberg hit back: “The suggestion that some residents in this borough do not put [Brexit] as their top priority is entirely false.

“There is a reason the Liberal Democrats are number one in the polls in Finchley and Golders Green, and Chipping Barnet.

“This is the number one issue for residents in this borough – and they oppose Brexit.”

The row came during a discussion on a ‘Brexit Impact Log’ drawn up by the council to assess the risks of leaving the EU.

It reveals Brexit could have a high impact on the adult social care, environmental services and construction workforce because many employees are EU nationals.

There could also be a big impact on some areas of council funding and the economy, while “food shortages, fuel shortages and social unrest” are possible in the short term, the report adds.

Cllr Ross Houston (Labour), West Finchley, branded the report “too little, too late” and said the council was particularly unprepared for a no-deal scenario.

He said the Government had given out money to local authorities in January to prepare for Brexit, but the council had yet to appoint an officer to deal with Brexit preparations.

Cllr Thomas claimed the money had come in “over the summer”, and the council’s deputy chief executive, Cath Shaw, said the officer would “certainly be in place by the end of the month”.

Cllr Rozenberg branded the Tory Government’s Brexit policy “disastrous” and said he agreed with Cllr Houston about the dangers Brexit posed to the country.

The Lib Dem councillor quizzed the leader about the scheme set up to allow EU nationals to apply for ‘settled status’ that would allow them to stay in the UK.

He pointed out that in the event of no deal, people who wanted to apply for settled status would need to have been living in the UK before it leaves the EU.

Cllr Rozenberg said: “Can I ask what mechanism the council has set up to monitor whether people are in the country at 11pm on October 31?”

Cllr Thomas replied: “I don’t believe that’s the council’s role, and therefore we haven’t done that.”

Cllr Rozenberg said: “There is no public body that has done that or will do that.

“We are entirely unprepared for no deal.”

The Lib Dem councillor also pointed out that the impact log did not show there would be any benefits to the borough in the event of Brexit.

Cllr Thomas said the log had been drawn up specifically to assess the possible risks, rather than the benefits, of leaving the EU.

The Brexit Impact Log is available here.