In Brief

London independence: Could the capital break away from the UK?

The only region in England and Wales to vote for Remain could become its own city state by 2035, analyst says

Calls have emerged for London to secede from the UK after the results of the EU referendum.

The UK capital resisted the national trend to become the only region in England and Wales to vote in favour of remaining in the European Union.

Remain won 2,263,519 votes in London, compared with 1,513,232 in favour of Leave. Now its residents are "venting their frustrations on social media with pleas to form an independent city state and stay in the EU", the London Evening Standard reports.

A petition on Change.org says: "London is an international city, and we want to remain at the heart of Europe." It has so far gathered just 800 signatories.

Could London break away from the rest of the UK?

Technically, yes.

Prior to the vote, Professor Tony Travers, of the London School of Economics, told the BBC that while the scenario is unlikely, it is far from impossible.

He added that London Mayor Sadiq Khan would be "well within his rights to tell the government London didn't vote for Brexit and that City Hall now viewed the government as dysfunctional".

Kevin Doran, the head of strategy and research at KBL European Private Bankers, argues that London becoming an independent state is not just possible, but inevitable. Moves to make it happen could begin as early as 2035, he says.

"Within 20 to 30 years' time... they [London] will hold a referendum on taking themselves out of the UK, and away they go," Doran told the Yorkshire Post last year.

How would London fare outside of the UK?

London has a population of 8.7 million, making it larger than Wales and Scotland combined. The city generates 22 per cent of the UK's GDP and has an independent economy "around the same size as Sweden's", Metro says.

This does not mean the capital could survive on its own however, says former Downing Street policy adviser Ben Rogers.

"If London is the engine of the UK economy," he said, "the rest of the UK provides the fuel."

What's the alternative?

According to Travers, independence is not the only way London could continue to flex its muscle on a world stage. The city could follow New York’s example, he says, with a powerful mayor who operates independently from the national government.

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