I’ve been morbidly obsessed with the Brexit process. I happened to be working a late night when the vote came through and my phone pipped with an NYTimes news alert that Britain had chosen to exit. But I’m inclined to wonder, based on my recent readings of “Connectography” whether some of the global cities will come to view the nation-states that bore them as less and less necessary to their continued prosperity.
…the more London…[props] up England’s depressed and depopulated regions…[Londoners] view the rest of Britain as a liability sapping London’s finances rather than a strategic asset. (p. 75)
London Mayor Sadiq Khan gave us a taste of the future on June 25th:
London Mayor Sadiq Khan says the capital needs more autonomy to adjust to the new reality of Britain leaving the European Union.
In a speech to business leaders Tuesday, Khan says that more autonomy is needed to protect the economy from the uncertainty ahead. Khan says he isn’t “asking for London to get a bigger slice of the British pie,” only for Londoners to “get more control over the slice of the pie we already get.”
Khan wants the devolution of fiscal responsibility including tax-raising powers, as well as more control over business and skills, housing and planning, transport, health, policing and criminal justice.
Though London has some independence, city leaders do not have the same powers as other global cities, such as New York.
There’s been a clear and growing gap between the country and the town since the arrival of William the Conqueror, extending through Jane Austen (“Country manners? I find them charming.”) unto the present, globalized London. While London keeps its view fixed to the ends of the Thames estuary, the country continues to look unto the salty water-bound borders of Fortress Britannia.
More and more the urban profit centers and their outward, urban, inclusive view seems at odds with the nation-state that house them, afford them national defence, and bleed cash out of them. I called this phenomenon Big World / Small World.