Tuesday, 28 June 2016

If London is a truly world city then Brexit shouldn't matter...

So goes the cry from London's mayor - what's happening is bad news for London, for the jobs of Londoners and the prospects for the city. And all this, as urbanist Aaron Renn points out, rather questions the idea of a world city:

Yet most of the London establishment – and 60% of Londoners themselves in the vote – strongly supported the Remain option. They warned of disaster for London if it lost access to the EU single market.

This more or less demolishes the arguments for the city-state. If London, the world’s ultimate global city, can’t thrive without access to a continental scale de facto state in the EU, there’s little prospect anyone else can either.

It’s telling that so many city leaders hate their state or national governments, but love supra-national governments like the EU. The shows that their real desire isn’t to go it alone in the marketplace, but to create replacement governance structures that are more amenable to their way of thinking, that constitutionally enshrine their preferences, and are insulated from democratic accountability.

For all the talk of London being the 'world's capital city' and so forth, what we see here is a great fear that maybe, just maybe, this isn't true. Renn goes on:

...if London can’t recover from the inevitable turbulence around Brexit, this would show that not only do cities need to be part of states, they need to be part of very large and powerful ones.

We don't know the answer to this question - at least not yet. London is without question a great city, perhaps the greatest city in the world, but does that status - in finance, in law, in the arts, in advertising - require that privileged market access or is the truth that the big hinterland needs London a darn sight more than London needs that single market.


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