Our survey results suggest that the UK’s decision to leave the EU has left Londoners feeling unsure about their relationships – both with fellow Londoners, and the rest of the UK (see Figure 4).
Unsurprisingly, a large majority (81 per cent) of Londoners think that the capital’s continuing success is essential for the good of the whole of the UK. Yet, the EU referendum result has left Londoners feeling unsure about the how London relates to rest of the country. 41 per cent of Londoners feel distant from the rest of the UK in the wake of Brexit, while one in three (37 per cent) feel that negative perceptions of London from the rest of the UK are holding the capital back.
Just one in three (34 per cent) of Londoners think that central Government has London’s best interests at heart (see Figure 4).
Despite concerns about central Government, and about the negative impact that Brexit is expected to have on London’s economy, Londoners do not appear to have an appetite to go it alone when it comes to making its own arrangements with the EU.
Priorities for central Government
Londoners believe access to the single market is more important than reducing immigration, but show no appetite for bespoke immigration arrangements for the capital: 58 per cent of Londoners think that the same system should apply to London as to the rest of the UK, as opposed to 31 per cent who believe London should have more flexibility.
Nor is there overwhelming appetite for special treatment when it comes to London’s membership of the Single Market. 41 per cent of Londoners think that the capital should be able to remain in the Single Market even if the rest of the UK does not, compared to 45 per cent who do not think that London should be able to do so.
The case for devolution
Many London business and civic leaders, including Boris Johnson and Sadiq Khan, have argued that London needs greater powers and control in order to tackle its chronic challenges, ranging from housing and infrastructure investment to skills shortages.
This is an argument that has arguably strengthened in the wake of Brexit, as reflected by Mayor Sadiq Khan’s reconvening of the London Finance Commission. Londoners broadly back this argument: 57 per cent think that London should be given more powers over its finances to ensure its continuing success.