Brexit voters have responded angrily to news that EU diplomats are plotting to withdraw flagship agencies from Britain ‘within weeks’.
The Daily Express reported the move was a ‘Brexit punishment’ - despite admitting the loss of the European Banking Authority and the European Medical Agency (EMA) was inevitable after the triggering of Article 50.
Readers of the paper who voted Leave reacted with outrage.
The two agencies not only employ hundreds of staff, many of them British, in the capital - but also create huge demand for goods and services.
The EMA on its own attracts over 40,000 visitors each year to its offices - creating the need for 350 hotel rooms every night, five days a week, the agency’s Executive Director Guido Rasi said last year.
All of the business will be lost to another major European city - with Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam all reportedly vying for the prestigious institutions.
It is hoped the agencies will know their new locations by June.
And it’s not just voters incensed by the reported plot - Brexit Secretary David Davis said he does not accept that the agencies have to move from London’s Canary Wharf.
A Brexit department spokesman said: “No decisions have been taken about the location of the European Banking Authority or the European Medicines Agency — these will be subject to the exit negotiations.”
Elsewhere, leading environmental campaigners have warned the Government against scaling back on commitments to tackle climate change and end the illegal market in wildlife in order to secure post-Brexit trade deals.
Greenpeace, WWF, Friends of the Earth, and high profile figures such as Andy Murray, and Will Young are among those who have signed a joint letter to the Prime Minister urging Theresa May not to engage in an “environmental race to the bottom” after withdrawal from the EU.
The campaigners say they fear international green commitments could be “watered down” in return for lucrative bilateral trade agreements, reports the Press Association.
The letter states: “We are alarmed by recent media reports suggesting that the UK’s commitments to tackling climate change and ending the illegal wildlife trade could be watered down to secure post-Brexit trade deals.
“To be a great, global trading nation, the UK must deliver on its promises for the environment and the climate and honour our international commitments. In doing so we will help build a greener, better and more prosperous future for everyone, rather than driving an environmental race to the bottom.”
WWF chief executive officer Tanya Steele said: “An African elephant is killed every 25 minutes by ivory poachers, and we are already seeing the serious impacts of climate change, with more severe weather events in the UK.
“Our environment must not be sacrificed during the Brexit negotiations. The UK Government must deliver on its promises and leave the environment in a better state for future generations rather than trading away protections for our nature and climate.”
A Government spokesperson said: “The UK is a global leader in tackling the illegal wildlife trade and a key part of worldwide efforts on climate change, including implementing the commitments made under the Paris Agreement. Our commitment to both issues is as strong as ever.
“The Government also has a clear ambition to be the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it while securing the best deal for the country as we leave the EU.”