The uncertainty surrounding Brexit is hurting the technology sector in London, warned London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
According to a report in Reuters, citing comments the mayor made on the opening day of London Tech Week, Khan argued that Brexit shifted government resources and attention away from tech debates, such as around the use of artificial intelligence, and created uncertainty, which is an enemy of innovation.
“There’s no doubt that as a country, we should be much further ahead than we are now – not only in terms of making sure we can make the most of what (AI) has to offer, but in terms of educating the public, encouraging public debate and preparing for the potential impact on our society,” Khan said.
Since the U.K. voted three years ago to exit the European Union, there has been little clarity as to when it will actually happen. Prime Minister Theresa May failed to get a Brexit deal, and as a result lost her position. Khan said the uncertainty over Brexit has hurt investments going into London and the rest of the country.
“The best way to break the gridlock is for the British public to have a say for the first time: ‘Do we accept the deal negotiated by the government,’ with the option of remaining in the European Union,” he told Reuters. “I think it should happen sooner than later.” He added that the Labour party should back a public vote on Brexit.
Despite the Brexit uncertainty, the London mayor did say the tech sector in the city is booming. He noted that London has more AI companies than Berlin and Paris combined, and that tech firms in London have raised $3.26 billion in venture capital during the first half of this year, which is twice as much as Berlin. Some of those investments included money going to the delivery startup Deliveroo and Checkout.com, the online payments company.