News / City Life

An open letter from Time Out London

Dear World

Dear World,

Last week, the majority of the UK voted to leave the European Union. The majority of London did not. Most Londoners used their ballot papers to show that we treasure our closeness to Europe. We wanted to let you know that as far as most Londoners are concerned, our attitude to Europe is the same as it ever was.

We’re not just a British city – we are a European city. Many of us were born to European parents, many of us cherish EU nationals as our friends. And that’s just those of us who were able to vote in the referendum. For huge numbers of us, London isn’t just a vital part of Europe. Europe is a vital part of London (and we’re not just saying that because it’s quicker for us to get to Paris than to cross our own city by bus in rush hour).

We want to be clear: people who were not born in this city are welcome here. Not just Europeans, everyone: no matter what nationality, race, creed, colour or shoe size. Ask most Londoners what we love about this city and we’ll say one thing: its diversity. We want this city to remain a place for the outward-looking, for people with something different to offer. There is no place in this city for anyone who wants to make anyone else feel unwelcome on the basis of their nationality or race. If you have a problem with people who look or sound different to you, then you’re not a real Londoner. 

This is a nation whose royal family are part Greek and part German. Those proud British lions at the foot of Nelson’s Column? A French-Italian sculptor carved them. Our national dish? It’s either fish and chips (thanks to a Jewish immigrant setting up London’s first chippy) or it’s chicken tikka masala – not, in case we need to point it out, a recipe that was invented by people who boasted that they could trace their lineage back to William the Conqueror. (William the Conqueror was French, anyway). The very word ‘English’ comes from the Anglo Saxons – a Germanic tribe – so what does our national identity even mean if not: ‘People who’ve welcomed immigrants for thousands of years’?

Real Londoners understand that you cannot send our city’s migrants home (imagine the miserable consequences for the Premier League and our restaurants); real Londoners understand that London IS their home. Our city has not changed overnight: it remains a place full of people who cherish human beings of all nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. Now and for ever, we see all people as people. And, more than that, we see them as Londoners. So, people of Europe and people of the world: thank you for making our city your home. No, let’s rephrase that: thank you for making YOUR city your home.

Yours, as always

Time Out London



Richard B

What about the rest of Britain. We're not all racist up north. Neither are all of us that voted out. Immigration was not the only reason to vote out. Personally, I hope we set up a trade deal with the EU that includes some form of free movement. This referendum has divided Britain, we now need to bring us all back together. Scotland is already talking about leaving the UK. Now you are dividing London from the rest of Britain.

Sophia P

Dont leave was always my view. Very very worried about the affect on our economy. Very frightened about our future.

Alan S

All nice words of course, a little patronising.  This article has missed the point however like the 'remain' group did all too much - this isn't about immigrants or different nationalities being here or coming here or whatever - it really is not.  Yes unfortunately to a small awful minority which should never be bowed to to make any kind of decision either way. It is about leaving a political system that is failing and has already absolutely crushed countries like Greece, one that is too slow and cumbersome to properly react to anything and getting more diluted from a democratic organisation governing on behalf of its representative nations.  As a leave voter I hope other countries leave this outdated system and we work together the same as but without the undemocratic constraints of a failing system.  I am in constant travel throughout Europe and a Londoner.  I have yet to meet people in France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, Belgium, Ireland who do NOT feel that their government has let them down with the way the E.U. has developed.  People who feel powerless with no vote to change anything.  If this vote had been carried out right across Europe on the same day - the E.U. would've be consigned to the history books in a single day.  It is very presumptuous and wrong of you to believe as an Leave voter that I am a racist because I have followed the politics for the last fifteen years of the E.U. and do not believe in the way it is developing.  I could talk for days about the reasons - but I'm just addressing here the racial implication of your article to ALL leave voters.  I wanted reform in the E.U., the E.U. representative politicians did not listen.  We voted out.  It is no surprise that the majority of people in London voted to remain.  As well as being a multicultural city, a wonderful thing but just the same as all developed lead cities around the world which are multicultural - London doesn't own multiculturalism, you don't have to be in the EU to be multicultural, Los Angeles isn't in the E.U. - London is also the heart of where most money is made from Europe.  Most people I know voted remain in London, the majority had vested interests in the outcome financially.  Some of them their job was completely tied in to being in the E.U.  This isn't a case of everyone in London is the enlightened hero and everyone else isn't.  There is an enormous centralisation of wealth in London, I work there, and anybody in a high paid job in London will not want to upset the status quo.  More people own second or third houses in London that elsewhere in the UK, property was due to fall with an E.U. leave vote.  The stock market and all trading is based in London.  A lot of people voted in London motivated by one thing, Money Money Money, Me, Me, Me. Which is fine, people always vote for vested interests. However, if you are unemployed from Sunderland you have a very different view of an E.U. membership that seems to have passed you by.  This doesn't make you a racist because you are affected differently financially and want better for your own life rather than the big banks and city flyers who are all doing just fine thank you, carry-on.  Of course poorer people in London will have voted to remain in the E.U. and were not motivated by money.  You're article however over simplifies, is patronising to people of other nationalities living in the UK and honestly quite naive and ignorant to suggest again the leave vote was about race.

Elena S

"We want to be clear: people who were not born in this city are welcome here." Thanks, I guess... I was not born here. I am a Londoner. Why do you declare yourselves the host and welcome me in my own home? I resent it. It is patronising, presumptuous and completely delusional. Why do you feel the need to state the obvious, as if there was any other way? The U.K divorce with the EU does not effect me in the slightest, like thousands of foreign nationals (including many eu nationals), who have legal status in the UK and VOTED. It is just as silly to welcome me as to tell me otherwise. Half of Londoners have gone through immigration papers so yes we do know that nobody is going anywhere. By stating the obvious you are somehow implying that's not the case. Shows complete lack of understanding of immigration rules and Londom community. You just made a statement on my behalf (a Londoner) to me (a person not born here). You are confused. Stop trying to sort and label residents. I am comfortable secure and happy.

Tony C

and we only wished we had houses for you all but we are 2.5 million houses short for our own people so yes thank you all but dont come here to live unless you speak english, have a job to go to, bring enough money to live on for you and your family as you wont be able to claim any money until you have  been here for 4 years


You now realise immigrants pay substantially more in taxes then they take in benefits and that the fact we aren't building any affordable housing has nothing to do with then

michael w

@Tony C Not enough of "our own people" seem to want to work in construction to build the 2.5 million houses. So who's going to do it if you banish all the immigrants?


@ world we all think different we are all different so that's fine. the world is a shrinking place, and there are those that would use the questioning of the massive to divide us, there is one world and one people who live in it... lets not allow the evolution  (or lack of it) of E.U. or the lack of people to take a chance in our common mankind to believe that we can all be better. if we can't then we should just give up. I for one believe we can

Viktorv V

Sorry, too late... You're out. Adieu!

Viktorv V

How would you know about a possible impact when negotiations haven't even started. I really don't see why Brits should enjoy the same freedom of movement as before. In is in, out is out. Auf Wiedersehen!


Another thicko. You don't realise leaving the EU has zero impact on freedom of movement, like we'd been telling you lot for weeks...

Ben L

This post should be addressed those of British citizenship who voted to leave, not the world. The world already knows this.

Andrew J

Time Out is now little more than  shopping trolley for the beneficiaries of a socially cleansed and gentrified London, where it is next to impossible for anyone to live there unless they are economically privileged or have manged to buy property. 

It purports to be so inclusive of immigration but like its readership, shows no concern for the people of its country who have been neglected and forgotten, many of whom have been forced out of the capital. 

And then these people wonder why people voted 'Leave'. 


So do I, considering leaving the EU has zero impact on immigration.

Manuele C

Hi there, for the 50% of the people who voted I'm part of the problem. I'd like to talk to you about how much lucky you are. I'm from Italy, the land where everything is possible! The only country in the world that can allow 20 years of Berlusconi government! The only country that has people working off the book in the parliament. And I thought... The only country that can think about leaving the EU. I'm used to live in a country where you're constantly judged, you are nice if you are in a suit, short hair, no beard and you are evil with just one tiny earring. I've been in London years ago, in the streets I saw a policewoman with a huge pink circular saw shaped hair! It was gorgeous! I remember that because here, a policeman can't have a tattoo for the dignity of the uniform (but can steal or kill people in cold blood of course). When you voted your mayor months ago (or less?) I was almost crying because I finally see that somewhere there is a world that I belong to. EU is a messy thing, probably in most part thanks to Italy (oh this country is so broken, you have no idea), but leaving it is the worst option. In a world facing the biggest menace, a huge, enormous, gargantuan Berlusconi named Trump I think is really the worst decision (with all due respect ofc). The “diversity” mr Duggins talks about is what we, from the other side of the Channel, see when we come there. Just sit down and think about how lucky you are when you see just a person and not a black, yellow or white man or a chinese, an italian etc... I can't see that, I'm not racist but I'm used to see just one colour but that “diversity” from your childhood to the grave helps you to see no difference. Embrace it and be proud of your great country. This doesn't want to be a lesson, I'm no one, take it as a love letter with a bit of disappointment. Hope you could understand my very personal version of your language! :D

Rowan F

Hey TimeOut London!

The majority of the UK didn't vote to leave the EU.

52% of a 72.16% turnout is 37.5%. Not even half of us.

It is a scandal that that our Parliament did not establish minimum requirements for a mandate.

Otherwise, I support your sentiments.


Everyone under 35 just had their EU worker rights taken from them, and even if you extended voting age to 15 and had 100% turnout they would have been out voted 2 to 1. Hardly fair either.

Diane W

The majority of the UK did not vote to leave.....pedantic  but 17m of our population voted to leave and 16m voted to stay. That's not the majority of the UK


Free from what? Go on, write me a fucking list. You've "won" fuck all.

sindra S

Alexi, I met you a little while back and told you that you were my life guide in London. You've become more so now. Well said.


Gareth W

London-centrism, and the worst excesses of corporate, political, and press London, is a significant direct or indirect reason with so many were easily hoodwinked to vote Leave. This isn't an attack on London and the majority of its people, but there must be a rebalancing of focus, in all its guises, away from the capital (unless it becomes a Polis through independence) otherwise the unbalance in the force, as it were, will continue to spread discord and disdain elsewhere in the country. You may not care, but this result should tell you why you should. Yours truly, a Remain provincial.

Pete M

@Gareth W We make the most money per capita and have the least in public spending per capita despite public spending being less effective in London due to higher prices.

David O

@Gareth W How do we communicate to people how incredibly lucky we all are to live in the UK?  We have one of the fairest societies in the world, our legal and law enforcement system isn't corrupt, we have equal and shared individual rights and are the 5th largest economy in the world whilst managing to be 20th in the world ranking for life expectancy. The UK's 60 odd million people are all better off than a (very) large percentage of the remaining 6,000 million world citizens.

"London centrism" isn't a UK phenomena but a global one, our capital is the 4th largest city in the world by GDP - with all the commercial and cultural clout this brings with it. 

People travel by land, sea and air, often overcoming hurdles we can barely imagine to be here - anyone in the UK can pick up a £50 train ticket from a local station and come to London whenever they want, get a job here, rent a flat, watch a show... we all share its tax revenue (about 45% of all tax comes from London, which funds half of all of our education. motorways, defence and whatever else our politicians can dream up! 

When you talk about re-balancing all I see is a desire to destroy the UK's value(s). I would love to see the whole of the UK prosper - We can all choose where we live in the UK, its a privilege to be a UK citizen. Each part of the UK has its pro's and con's (I deal with the northern line twice a day, ridiculously expensive housing, no green space - but a job I greatly value), I dream of living in the country, though realise I can't have everything.

Why is a London that is successful in so many ways a bad thing...

Solofo R

So, should London leave UK, become a Republic and join the EU. That would be fantastic :)


"Hurrr durrr if you disagree you should leave the city". Probably not got a single GCSE