People always go on about how the capital might as well be an entirely different country to the rest of the UK – but could it actually happen? Could London become an independent city-state, a kind of Vatican-on-Thames?
We put this to Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills at City Hall, who sadly poured water on the idea. ‘Nobody is seriously talking about independence for London,’ he says. Boo!
But campaigners for ‘Londependence’ can take comfort in the fact that the GLA is lobbying for more control over the city’s taxes and public services. Pointing out that London has a bigger population than the devolved Wales and Scotland combined, Pipe says that there are plans to give the capital more power over housing, criminal justice, health, skills and employment support. Which is all good, but don’t expect border checkpoints at the M25 any time soon.
While we’re at it, why is London called the ’Big Smoke’?