Brexit-vote against the global city

Read in The Independent of 24 June 2016:


The Dutch presidency of the EU in the first half of 2016 ends with a Brexit. Well done. In Amsterdam, where all the EU-meetings were held, we can put away the flags. The party is over. The young and fragile Urban Agenda of the EU will be an agenda without London, by far the biggest city of the EU. So goodbye Urban Agenda. This Brexit doen’s mean the proud nation of the UK will be restored. Nation-states are outlived and will not come back, unless they start a new world war. No, it means the UK is becoming a city-state in a globalizing world, with a cosmopolitan London, still in favour of the EU, being forced by its shrinking and ageing hinterland to step back. The same holds for Manchester, Leeds, and Belfast, where a majority has also voted against Brexit. Brexit is a vote of the shrinking hinterland against the Global City. What will London do? Think of its urban economy, which is already fully globalized. Its former mayor, Mr. Boris Johnson, has a chance to become the prime-minister of the new London city-state. How ironic. He will weave his urban ‘nation’ in the new networks of global cities, starting with New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Moscow, and Shanghai, all cities with economies as big as the UK. It is a scenario. Or a way of seeing things.

The other option is Mr. Sadiq Khan, the new mayor of London, will come up with the proposal to leave the UK. Why not? London will certainly not become the new capital city of a former powerful country, it is a global city already for quite a long time, a very powerful city indeed, which in many ways is disconnected from its surroundings. There are more than a million Europeans living in London. Besides, there are quite a few millions of immigrants living in London from all over the world. Mr. Khan is one of them, his family is from Pakistan. The Brexit vote was a vote against immigrants in the first place, against the global city. So how did the new mayor respond to the Brexit vote? “There is no need to panic.” And: “I want to send a particular message to the almost one million Europeans living in London, who make a huge contribution to our city – working hard, paying taxes and contributing to our civic and cultural life. You are welcome here. We value the enormous contribution you make to our city and that will not change as a result of this referendum." Will they stay? It starts with London protesting.  Mind ‘London Stays’.






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