Wednesday, 14 September 2016
An article by Neil Hughes
If it were only Britain wanting to depart from Europe, or Scotland’s own discrete independence-seeking one could – as a faint consolation – look to an England which is at least notionally united.
However even this is no longer the case with the principal next-tier locus of disconnection lying between North and South. Here something that has always existed has opened up insidiously into a major rift, highlighted in the June Brexit referendum. Inevitably a major capital city like London, lying closer to the rest of Europe than other parts of the UK, will possess pre-empting advantages; should this automatically and necessarily infer, however, that half or more of the UK’s trade and wealth-accrual needs to be based in and around it?
In time, a formal ‘Brexit’ may of course set back SE England as much as its other regions, not a levelling-down of the kind Lib Dems (or anyone) would especially desire! Of as much concern is the billowing social separation which means that the majority of major conferences, nationally significant public meetings, business and charity AGMs, political executive committee meetings (all parties except self-evidently Celtic nationalist & Ulster-based ones) and most strategic thinking either happen or begin to happen in London. Despite (equivocal) city deals this leaves the north, west, east and Midlands of England – as well as the devolved nations – poorer not only financially but socially, academically and culturally too. For example, it has always been a ‘given’ that London’s West End gets the best shows – but should it automatically?