Should London separate from the rest of the UK?

Scotland independence desire is still fresh, Catalonia held its unofficial referendum. Why not London? It commands its country politically, culturally and economically. And, it is where modern democracy, Charlie Chaplin and Pret A Manger were born.

London population is two-thirds bigger than Scotland’s, and its economy is two-thirds bigger than Catalonia’s. West London is the wealthiest district in Europe. Yet, Rural England has outvoted it, dragging London out of the EU against its will. It is under the authority of a Conservative cabinet it didn’t choose. Its liberalism is out of the game. It’s the principle and not the specifics. Shouldn’t we point out that it’s our ball, and we are taking it home?

What would it be of London if we pull up the drawbridge now?

 Tower Bridge, London
Tower Bridge, London

A sociologist once said that nations are “imagined communities”. What are Londoners if not one people, bound together by the frustration at the District Line and an urban sense of superiority? The superiority is actually very nuanced: we accredit to ourselves the virtues of cosmopolitanism without any of the self-centeredness that torments New Yorkers. Indeed, we would be the Goldilocks country.

What about the practicalities? Well, it’s quickly done. An independent London would remain in the EU and seek a ‘deep and special partnership’ with the rest of the United Kingdom. London would finally take back control of its laws, money and borders. The Tube map would be the flag. The M25 motorway would be an excellent border. Do not panic; it would be as frictionless as possible. Can you not see the opportunity to have an even more global London.

I hear you: there might be an economic cost. Indeed. But look at the bright side. House market will crash. The chances to get a seat on the bus or a Wimbledon ticket will undoubtedly increase.

London’s dominance is a mixed blessing. It has been clogged up by the head offices of national power: the monarchy, the ministries, the BBC. Better to turn Buckingham Palace, Westminster and Oxford Circus over to the tourists, who have pretty much taken charge of them anyway.

 Buckingham Palace, London 
Buckingham Palace, London 

A Greater London enclave may do us a favour. It would revive the rest of the United Kingdom. Londoners would lose their stake in the football team winning the world cup. Immigration unavoidably would be a difficult topic. And, quoting Brexit minister David Davis, London would make a generous offer. As a starting point, anyone with an Oyster card would be granted unlimited right to remain. What if one loses its Oyster? Can we allow free movement to Hungarians but not to those from Hull? These are small details the Department for leaving the UK would have no difficulty sorting out. No?

Deciding on a national anthem would be a tricky one. Again, this is something the Department for leaving would definitely need to look at.

These are uncertainties that might undermine the prospects of the London Leave campaign. A popular figure would be needed to win the independence argument. Someone of flexible views, who knows the city of London, including Leaving. Of course, Boris Johnson.

 Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

However, something doesn’t quite convince. First of all, where will it end? ThevUK Independence party councillors in Havering have tried to separate the borough from the Greater London Authority. Who could arrest a similar separatist movement in Dulwich or Hampstead?

Then there’s the risk the city-state of London might grow a bit insular: how many Chelsea-Arsenal games can we watch? More important, it’s the time involvement.

Sovereignty is a diary murderer. Londoners think of themselves as very cosmopolitan, though their main character is simply being busy.

You can only have a conversation when contractually agreeing to watch a new box set entirely. I’m not sure there is the time for a revolution. We do have a dream, but also a full schedule.