ITALIAN-BORN Lazzaro Pietragnoli took up the mayoral chains last night and, in his acceptance speech, praised the European laws which allowed him to settle in Primrose Hill. With that in mind – and look away now UKIP supporters – he has ordered the EU flag to be raised above the Town Hall next year. He told the packed chamber: “When people ask me, with a slightly surprised look in their eyes, how did this happen? Given the nature of Camden, given the different communities settled here, my first answer is: I’m surprised it hasn’t happened before. For my personal case, I’m able to work here despite not being a British citizen because of the visionary project, the European Union. I know it is not fashionable to be pro-European today but let us take the reality, the European community has given more freedom, and increased peoples’ rights and opportunities. For this reason, I’m glad to announce that on Europe Day in May 2015, the European flag will be raised on the top of the Town Hall.”
These sentiments largely got a round of applause, but, of course, they had the potential for political division too, in a way most new mayor’s speeches don’t. And if you scanned the room carefully you could see Conservative deputy leader Councillor Andrew Mennear shaking his head theatrically. Afterwards, he told me he did not see any reason for the EU flag – or the EU anthem – to even exist in the first place, let alone be hoisted above the council’s HQ. “The mayor will be flying the Italian flag over the Town Hall on Saturday night next,” he said, thinking ahead to England’s World Cup opening match with Lazzaro’s homeland this weekend.