Labour and the Conservatives have blocked the London Assembly Liberal Democrats' proposal to pilot a London Erasmus-style programme for young people across the capital.
The Lib Dems proposed an amendment to the Mayor's budget that would have taken £600,000 from the Mayor’s Business Rates Reserves to fund a year-long pilot of an exchange and volunteering programme for young Londoners. However, despite cross-party support from the Greens, Labour voted the amendment down while the Conservatives abstained, meaning the proposal did not pass.
The UK Conservative Government withdrew the UK from the EU’s ERASMUS+ programme in 2021, despite it not being a necessary condition of the UK’s exit from the EU and the programme having many non-EU members.
The Liberal Democrats have highlighted how the precedent for such a scheme has already been set: in 2021, the Liberal Democrat Education Minister in Wales led the introduction of the 'Taith' international learning and exchange programme.
Commenting, Caroline Pidgeon said:
"Following the Brexit vote in 2016, London’s leading role in Europe and across the world was significantly damaged. We know for a fact that most Londoners did not vote for this change, and young Londoners especially were against the move and have lost out the most.
"This situation was worsened by the UK Conservative Government’s decision to withdraw from the EU’s Erasmus student exchange programme. A decision that wasn’t even necessary to complete Brexit, but one that was forced through seemingly out of spite.
"Our amendment today would have done something proactive to give young Londoners back some of what they have lost for a relatively modest amount of money from the Mayor’s budget.
"Sadiq Khan has spent the last few weeks trying to convince Liberal Democrat voters and people who care about internationalism to vote for him at the elections in May, yet here today, London Labour has shown that while they talk to talk on Europe and education they do not follow through with action and money on the table.
"The Liberal Democrats will continue to stand up proudly for internationalism and to provide opportunity for young Londoners."