I’ve returned to the office in London. After nearly two years of Covid, Brexit and a plethora of other catastrophes, I somehow expected to see a change, a ghost town, boarded-up shops, bars and restaurants and an unfriendly, inhospitable vibe.
But I was pleasantly surprised. Things are getting back to normal, albeit it at a tempered level. Some businesses have closed but new ones are springing up. Squares and open spaces have become places of congregation. Tables for pubs and cafes are in the streets and it gives a vibe of energy and life. London may have had its wings clipped but there’s life in the old Smoke yet. Just look at the new buildings in Canary Wharf or the shops on the King’s Road during the Chelsea Flower Show. Or the vibrancy of the East End canals and markets. Get down there and see it for yourselves. It was and remains the most visited city in the world.
I’ve never shared the alarmism over Brexit, which gave insufficient recognition of the many attributes of London and this country more generally, and there’s similarly every reason to think the capital can thrive now the pandemic is hopefully subsiding. Nor should we pin hopes of revival only on the centre, because the rise in flexible working supported by enlightened employers can encourage vitality and creativity in other parts too.
Martin Bentham, Home Affairs Editor
Were there any Brexit benefits?
Two of the cornerstones of Brexit were the salvation of our fishing industry and a marvellous trade deal with US. Currently we are paying our fishermen and women £100 million in subsidies and now there is little chance of a deal with America. Apart from jobs created at lorry parks, one wonders if there were any benefits at all in leaving the EU? Or was it just ideological?