London mayor shows support for creative industries with appointment of deputy

Brexit crisis: London mayor Sadiq Khan has appointed a deputy dedicated to culture and creative industries, as his office continues its push to protect London businesses from the fallout of the EU referendum.

New deputy mayor Justine Simons will focus on policies that boost the city's creative industries, described as one of the core priorities of the administration.

The announcement comes as Khan undertakes discussions with the British government to ensure that London – the only region in England to overwhelmingly vote remain – maintains its close ties to the European Union.

"In the fallout from the EU referendum, our city's cultural wellbeing has never been so important, especially through its power to bring communities together, and to ensure our ongoing status as a globally attractive destination for business," said Khan.

The Evening Standard reported that Khan was yesterday in talks with the government's "Brexit czar", Tory Oliver Letwin, about London remaining in the single market.

He is also said to have pushed for some taxes and public services to be handed to London.

Simons joins the three existing deputy mayors on Khan's team – statutory deputy mayor Joanne McCartney, deputy mayor for housing James Murray and deputy mayor for transport Val Shawcross.

"The mayor has done something unprecedented for a global city - he has made culture a top priority and his goal is to embed it in regeneration, planning and infrastructure," she said. "It is now more urgent than ever to unlock the potential of culture to build bridges and bring people and communities together."

Until now Simon was head of culture at City Hall. She previously worked on the 2012 Olympic Festival, the Fourth Plinth Commission and the World Cities Cultural Forum.

The creative industries in the UK grew at almost double the rate of the economy overall in 2014, according to a report from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. These industries are now worth £84.1 billion per year to the UK.

"London's rich creative scene is a major area of economic activity, boasting world-class talent and institutions, and is a vital ingredient in our city's success," said Khan. "It is crucial that this vibrant sector continues to grow, and it is one of my core priorities to help it do so."

The sector was largely opposed to a British exist from the EU, with 96 per cent of members of representative body the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) claiming they were voting to remain.

CIF is now organising a series of emergency sessions to ready the UK's design sector to respond to a likely Brexit.