The geopolitics of London: or, how England joined the world – September 2022

Articles from Geopolitical Futures.

The first article can be read in full by clicking on this link:

Europe is no longer the imperial power it once was, but collectively it remains as politically, economically and militarily influential as ever, thanks in part to the European Union, an unprecedented experiment in geopolitical integration. Yet the fault-lines that divide Europe never went away. Nationalism is on the rise as the EU fails to deliver on its promise of universal prosperity. The struggle to keep the EU relevant, let alone intact, will define the continent in the years to come.

The second article was first published by Geopolitical Futures in 2018 and is now available on the internet in pdf. Click on the link at the foot of this short introduction.

Were London a city-state, it would be the 20th-largest national economy in the world – larger than the national economies of Saudi Arabia, Argentina and South Africa. Were London a city-state, its national per capita gross domestic product would be greater than that of the United States. Were London a city-state, it would be the 15th most populous country in Europe, with an overall population bigger than that of Austria or Denmark and bigger than the combined populations of Scotland and Northern Ireland. And were London a city-state, itwould have voted to remain in the European Union, and it would no doubt be criticizing neighbouring England for voting to leave.

Alas, London is not a city-state, and for all its history, wealth and power, it can never aspire to be one. For just under a millennium, London has been the capital of England; for more than three centuries, it has been the capital of the United Kingdom; for more than a century, it was the capital of the largest empire ever conquered. London embodies the paradox of all great cities. Great cities are the ultimate expressions of their national cultures, often serving as the seat of power for millions, even billions, of people who do not actually live there.

But just as often the interests of the cities diverge from those of the rest of the nation. Such is the case for London, a city that is the very definition of cosmopolitan. The power it wields and the opportunities it offers have attracted people from all over the world. The city, once a tactical nicety for warring tribes, has become a strategic necessity for the country in which it resides. The role London plays in that strategy changes according to the necessities of the times, and it’s just as likely as not that its interests actually align with the United Kingdom’s.

Consider Brexit. No part of the United Kingdom will feel the ramifications of the U.K.’s departure from the EU more deeply than London, which by dint of strategic necessity became a European financial and economic powerhouse. That is why Londoners voted with the Scots and the Northern Irish to “Remain” – because London, not England, will bear the brunt of the short-term disruptions to come. But London has transformed itself many times before, and there’s no reason to believe it will be daunted this time around.

London would no doubt prefer to remain in the EU and continue to enrichitself as Europe’s primary financial capital, butLondon has been and always will be a national capital. Its wealth and power are not its charity to the nation; they are a consequence of its position as the nation’s capital.

Here is the full article in pdf – click here:

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City of London

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