Why Britain Voted for Brexit
An article for the Long and Short magazine.
Brexit was more than just a vote on membership of the EU. It was a vote on a version of the modern world. By rejecting this version, the Leavers have consequently made a systemic change across Europe much more likely. This is an exploration of the most probable scenarios to occur as a result of the vote.
Brexit: Meaning more than Money
What the left should learn from the Brexit vote: an article for New Statesman.
The vote for Brexit was a rejection of a Remain campaign which focussed on narrow, economic self interest. It was a vote for people who wanted more meaning and purpose in their lives. It was also a vote for equality, at least to temper the inequalities that divide London from the rest of the country.
What Brexit Means for London
As the great urbanist Peter Hall warned in his epic Cities and Civilisation, creative cities have golden ages, when everything seems to hum only to run out of steam, sometimes after only two or three decades. Success and wealth easily makes cities complacent and inward looking: the story of Manchester in the 19th and Glasgow in the 20th century. Events can overtake them: the Depression and World War II brought to an end Berlin’s pre-eminence as a centre for the electrical industries which were then just emerging.
Perhaps 2016 will mark the end of London’s golden period which started in about 1996, not with the rise of New Labour but the arrival of Jamie Oliver and Britpop, a new generation of outspoken young artists based in Hackney and foreign banks filling up Canary Wharf, who together announced London’s new cosmopolitan mix of wealth and culture.
Cities can renew themselves in the wake of a shock like Brexit but only if they build a very broad alliance across politics, business and civil society, to respond creatively and inclusively. This moment of stark challenge for London is thus also an opportunity for creativity and leadership. London and its leaders now face five scenarios for the city’s future, each informed by a model loosely drawn from five other cities, Detroit, Montreal, West Berlin, Singapore and Athens. Which route will the London go down?
The full and final article is available behind a paywall at
An early draft of the piece is attached here: