Yes the London based Economist believes that the time is now right for moving the UK Capital to the North West.
“To many the capital and its credo—liberalism, globalisation, immigration—constitute a foreign and threatening world. Scotland’s government is flirting with a new independence referendum. Hatred of what many treat as a venal, self-congratulating, incestuous establishment confined to a few boroughs in London drove last year’s vote to leave the EU. In many ways it was an anti-London vote.” says the paper.
But of course that doesn’t necessarily mean Manchester, other cities would vie for the title, but Manchester has the upper hand:
“Its position as Britain’s de-facto second city is well-established (a YouGov poll in 2015 asking people which city other than London should be the capital gave it a huge lead). The BBC already has its second home there, in the MediaCity in Salford. Its infrastructure is better than that of Birmingham, it has more space to grow, its airport already has twice the traffic and twice the number of international connections. Birmingham suffers from being close enough to London to tempt people to commute from there (some already do). More than Birmingham or Leeds, Manchester has close physical and cultural links to all three other parts of the United Kingdom: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. At a time when the union is under strain that is valuable.”
We couldn’t agree more though there would be problems as the paper sets out
“The shift would of course put pressure on Manchester. The city would have to accommodate many thousands of new residents. House prices would rise, the transport network would have to grow. Yet more than any other big city in Britain it has a record of dynamic civic leadership—hence George Osborne’s decision, as chancellor, to make it the hub of his “northern powerhouse”. The city already has a plan for expansion: 227,000 houses in the next two decades. That could be accelerated to accommodate the capital’s move. The Manchester tram network was built with the conurbation’s growth into surrounding towns like Oldham, Stockport and Bolton in mind; stations sit ready for urban centres to grow up around them. While London dithers over a new runway, Manchester Airport’s expansion is already underway. And the shift would bring advantages for Manchester itself: confirming it as the hub of the northern economy and thus driving its integration with various other cities (like Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield) as close to it as parts of the London Underground network are to Westminster. That in turn would raise living standards.
So bring it on we say
photo credit Marketing Manchester/Rich J Jones