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Can London go it alone?

Should London jettison the rest of the UK and go it alone? Is the capital becoming the next Hong Kong or Singapore – a city state in all but name?

In a debate this evening (26 March) organised by London First and Birkbeck College, London and the regions will lock horns in a high-drama court-room disputation sure to inflame regional passions – arguing the motion ‘England used to be a country but now it’s a city state – that city being London’.

With London booming and paying out to the rest of the country through its taxes, former London Mayoral candidate Steve Norris and GLA Chief Economist Bridget Rosewell are set to argue that London’s success is bankrolling the UK economy and that London possibly no longer benefits from being part of the Union.

The regions, represented by Jim Hancock (former Presenter and Political Editor of the BBC Politics Show, North West) and Marianne Neville-Rolfe (former Director of the Government Office for the North West and director of the South East Development Agency), will argue that London’s economic might is damaging to the regions and that more funding should go to other parts of the UK to redress the balance.

Robert Webb QC, General Counsel of British Airways and Chair over the debate’s proceedings, said:

“Should London raise up its draw-bridge and go it alone? Should the capital declare its independence from the provinces? Or should more of the nation’s taxes be spent in other areas of the UK? Tonight’s debate will settle the argument…or at least raise some excitement!”

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors

The London First Birkbeck Debate will take the form of a courtroom style disputation and will centre on the case for investment in London vs. the regions, with QCs on either side calling witnesses to support their case. The QCs cross-examining will be Des Browne QC, a specialist in all areas of media law, and Dan Brennan QC, Deputy High Court Judge and the Bar representative on the Council of the International Bar Association. The highly engaging Robert Webb QC, General Counsel to British Airways, will be in the chair.

A source of facts to support both sides of the argument is available here.
London First is a business membership organisation whose mission is to make London the best city in the world in which to do business. London First undertakes this by mobilising the experience, expertise and enthusiasm of the private sector to develop practical solutions to the challenges facing London. London First also seeks to persuade central and London government to make the investments that London needs in its infrastructure.

London First delivers its activities with the support of 300 of the capital’s major businesses in key sectors such as finance, professional services, property, ICT, creative industries, hospitality and retail. Membership also includes all of London’s higher education institutions as well as further education colleges and NHS hospital trusts. London First members represent 26% of London’s GDP.”

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