Here's what Sadiq Khan has to say about London independence

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Tuesday 28 June 2016 13:20
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Picture: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

In the wake of the EU referendum the UK has been forced to confront some of the ugliest and starkest divisions in society.

One of the most obvious dividing factors in the vote split was geography. While Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as urban areas in England and Wales, voted Remain, almost everywhere else returned a majority for Leave.

In the English capital, 59.9 per cent of people voted to stay in the EU, and in some boroughs this climbed to higher than 70 per cent.

Some Londoners were so aghast at the result that a campaign for London to go it alone and declare independence quickly gained traction.

(FYI, London Independence, it's exactly this kind of ~metropolitan elite~ posturing that makes the rest of the country hate you).

A petition has already gathered 200,000 signatures and counting, reaching the attention of newly installed mayor Sadiq Khan.

Khan has stressed in his public appearances since Friday that despite worries to the contrary, London is open to both immigrants and business.

Speaking to business leaders at the Times' CEO summit in central London on Tuesday the new mayor said the city needs to "take back control" in the face of our impending economic doom (where have we heard that before lately?)

As much as I might like the idea of a London city state, I'm not seriously talking about independence today. I am not planning to install border points on the M25.

But on behalf of all Londoners, I am demanding more autonomy for the capital - right now. More autonomy in order to protect London's economy from the uncertainty ahead, to protect the businesses from around the world who trade here and to protect our jobs, wealth and prosperity.

Khan urged the government to move quickly on devolution powers, asking for greater tax-raising powers, public services, city planning, business, health, transport and the courts.

He stressed that London "doesn't want a bigger slice of the British pie", but more control of the "slice of the pie we already get" to protect the capital's economy from potential Brexit fallout.

He had a message for the rest of the UK too: London's devolution is in everyone's interests.

When London succeeds, the rest of the country succeeds too. And when we fail, the entire nation fails.

Well. We might be getting a head start on that one.

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