London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been criticised for ‘politicising’ the capital’s impressive New Year fireworks display.
The riverside display saw the London Eye lit up to resemble the EU flag, while the soundtrack to accompany the display celebrated Europe’s finest musical artists.
The words “London is open” were spoken in seven languages as the capital welcomed in 2019, including in English by Mr Khan.
The move has seen the Mayor of London come under fire, with some accusing him of ‘disrespect’ and others saying it was inappropriate.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen accused Mr Khan of a “betrayal of democracy”, telling The Sun: “It’s low, it’s very low to politicise what is an international public event…
“It’s a betrayal of democracy and it’s what we have come to expect from a very poor mayor of London.”
Former MEP Roger Helmer drew a comparison with the Falklands War, tweeting: “While the UK is locked in negotiations with Brussels, Sadiq Khan chooses to display the other side’s flag on the London Eye. Would he have shown an Argentinian flag during the Falklands war?”
And broadcaster and columnist Julia Hartley-Brewer hit out at the mayor, tweeting: “Are you bloody kidding me? You put the EU flag on the London Eye on New Year’s Eve? WTAF?”
But Mr Khan has defended his decision, tweeting: “Our spectacular #LondonNYE fireworks showed that whatever the outcome of Brexit – #LondonIsOpen – to business, talent, ideas & creativity – and why London really is the greatest city in the world.’
He told Sky News: “Here in London we have more than a million Londoners who are EU citizens and we should reflect on that.”
He added: “One of the things which upset many, many Londoners and many people across our country and in Europe is the tone and language used by politicians in Westminster, giving the impression we’re insular, inward looking, not welcoming to Europeans.”
Mr Khan said the fireworks display was about showing that the UK is “open-minded, outward looking, pluralistic” and would celebrate diversity.