Council decides to continue flying EU flag above Edinburgh city chambers despite Brexit


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The European flag will continue to fly at City Chambers despite the departure of Scotland and the United Kingdom from the EU, the Lord Provost of the capital announced.

The UK officially left the European Union on January 31 following the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Edinburgh City Council was due to debate whether the Council of Europe flag would remain in the air at the authority’s municipal seat after Green Councilor Alex Staniforth brought forward a motion.

Councilor Staniforth had tabled a motion at Thursday’s plenary council meeting, noting that in the 2016 European referendum, “Edinburgh was the most supported city in the UK” with 74.4% of citizens voting to stay in UK.

Councilor Staniforth had said that ‘to mark our city’s strong desire to remain in the EU, the Council of Europe flag should be hoisted over the City Chambers every day until Edinburgh is once again part of the EU. of the EU ”.

He added that there would be exceptions on days when hoisting a flag to mark or commemorate a specific day of celebration or commemoration made it “impossible”.

Conservative group leader Iain Whyte had told councilors that “I don’t think we want to get into a debate on flags”, before Councilor Staniforth withdrew the motion after being reassured by Lord Provost Frank Ross that the symbol will remain above the city. Bedrooms.

Lord Provost said: “The flag which currently flies over our municipal chambers, although commonly referred to as the EU flag, is in fact also the flag of the Council of Europe. It has been around since 1955 and as the UK will continue to be a member of the Council of Europe, we will continue to fly this flag. “

The news was welcomed by Councilor Staniforth.

He said: “I am very happy that Lord Provost has pledged to continue to fly the Council of Europe flag above the City Chambers.

“Edinburgh voted three to one to stay in the EU, but it’s not just about reflecting the city’s clear political direction. It is important that we remind the tens of thousands of EU citizens living in Edinburgh that their city values ​​them, wants them and needs them – that as a city we will always strive to uphold their rights and their safety. This sends an important message that Edinburgh remains an international and inclusive city. “

The message was echoed by City Councilor Adam McVey, who added: “Lord Provost is right to ensure that the Council of Europe flag flies over City Chambers – not just because our country in is still a member, but because it sends a strong message. of the internationalism of our capital to the world and, more importantly, serves as a further reminder of the welcome and worth of the 40,000 EU citizens who have made Edinburgh their home. “

But the Conservatives said the authority should focus on improving municipal services rather than symbolic gestures.

Conservative Group chairman Councilor Jason Rust said: “It would have been better to focus on values ​​than symbolism. Frankly, the whole flag issue was just a distraction from core city council business. The residents would rather we focus on the slabs and not the flags. “

MEPs also voted for the EU flag to fly above the Scottish Parliament following a last-minute vote.

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