The call for London independence

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With ideas of independence firmly in people’s minds, be it in Scotland or Catalonia, is it time for Londoners to fight for independence from the UK? London is the centre of the UK in almost everything apart from geography. The home of British ideals and the very image that the international community sees when thinking of Britain, but how different is it from the rest of the UK? With over 180,000 people signing a petition calling for London independence, it is certainly time for the capital’s relationship with the rest of the country to be discussed.

The Palace of Westminster

With houses in London being a staggering £300,000 higher than elsewhere in the UK and a population of 8.8 million, London is larger than New York (8.5 million) and more than capable of standing alone. London also houses almost an eighth of the population, generating a fifth of the UK’s economic power. Is it time that London joined the likes of Monaco and Singapore city-state?

Now more than ever is the time to debate this. With a population three million greater than Scotland and an economy similar to that of Sweden and Iran, London seems more suited to independence than both Scotland and Catalonia, where a nationalistic surge has put independence firmly on the map. The city voted overwhelmingly for Remain in Brexit – 60% for Remain – so independence would give it the authority and power to remain in the EU. London accounts for 22% of the GDP of the UK and this would make it, as an independent state, the sixth largest economy in Europe. Culturally, London is different to the UK, with only 45% of the population “white British” and, of its working population, 58% are graduates compared to a national average of 38%. What London wants is often starkly at odds with the desires of the rest of the UK.

However, what would a post-London-exit (‘Lexit’ perhaps?) look like? Would freedom of movement exist for EU citizens in London, but not for someone from Liverpool? What would this do to the pound? Prior to the Scottish Independence vote, the pound fell 1% against the Euro and 1.3% against the US dollar. Furthermore, what would replace London as the UK capital? Would it be beneficial to bring power and money to the Northern powerhouse, fuelling a rebirth of Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham as fiscal centres and spreading the growth and wealth? Far from being a disaster, a London exit could unify the UK!

The relationship between capital and country needs to be discussed. Only 7% of Londoners’ tax went straight to the city. Allowing it more control over its finances – like the powers devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – would boost growth in London even further and incentivise growth across the whole nation. This is a case argued by London mayor Sadiq Khan.