'London should become a city state after hard Brexit'

Tom Powell
David Lammy: the MP said the case for a London city-state has never been stronger: Nigel Howard

Labour's David Lammy has said London must plan to become a city-state if the “hardest of all hard Brexits” goes ahead.

Writing in today’s Evening Standard, the MP for Tottenham argued the capital’s future as a thriving economic powerhouse depends on being open to the rest of the world.

He said Scotland’s push for a second independence referendum should inspire Londoners to seek what is best for the capital as well.

“Whitehall has begun the devolution of control over adult skills, criminal justice services and employment support to City Hall, but Brexit changes everything, so it is perfectly rational to consider more radical proposals than piecemeal devolution,” wrote Mr Lammy.

“Let’s not forget that 60 per cent of Londoners voted to Remain. The referendum result sent a shock wave through the capital, but as the dust begins to settle, London finds itself increasingly constrained by — and at odds with — the policies and priorities of our central Government.

“If Scotland can have another referendum on independence, then why can’t we have a well-overdue debate about London becoming more autonomous and independent from the rest of the country?

“If Brexit was a victory of smalltown conservatism, resurgent nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment, then London’s status as the financial and cultural capital of Europe depends on resisting these shifts.”

Mr Lammy's intervention comes as it was announced that Prime Minister Theresa May is set to trigger Article 50 on March 29 after her Brexit bill won Parliamentary approval last week.

He said London’s status as a “de facto city-state” will become clearer over the next two years of Brexit negotiations.

He added: “What has become clear since June is that the Government will not fight London’s corner in the Brexit negotiations.

“The case for a London city-state has never been stronger. As Sturgeon told the SNP conference: we are not powerless, we can still decide which path we take. If you identify with London’s values, it’s time to fight for them.”

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