We now need a strong London more than ever | Blaise Tapp

One of the great things about the UK is that there is an awful lot packed into a small nation.

Saturday, 15th February 2020, 12:00 am
Updated Saturday, 15th February 2020, 12:00 am
HS2 has highlighted the north-south divide this week. Picture: Alstom

Not only are we four countries, each with its own identity, but we are also home to regions and counties that proudly shout about their own unique characteristics.

One of the joys of living in this country is that you can jump into your car, drive for less than an hour and arrive at a town where they sound completely different and have a different name for a sandwich.

Regional rivalry is rife, with most folk happy to tell everybody else their part of this island is best. We love to bicker about whether the evening meal is dinner or tea or if it is acceptable to put gravy on chips.

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But it seems there is one thing which unites every region and that is our dislike of London. A recent survey for a national newspaper asked thousands of people from across Britain what they thought of other regions. London came bottom. The north scored highly, with Yorkshire top.

It’s unclear what they had against our largest city, but it’s not hard to work it out. We often hear about the London-centric nature of government and the national media. They may have a point. Every truly national newspaper has its base in the capital, while the country is run from a few exclusive postcodes there.

The recent debate about whether the rising costs of HS2 would render it pointlessly expensive highlighted the north/south divide.

Large parts of our country have been left forgotten for far too long and it remains to be seen whether the government will repay its new supporters in the north with much-needed investment. But, is this really London’s fault? It is a genuine world-class city, the beating heart of our economy and the main reason why we punch above our weight on the world stage.

As a proud northerner I am unusual in that, although I wouldn’t want to live there, I love London. It deserves the attention it receives and it is in every Briton’s interests that it remains a powerhouse. As we continue our post-Brexit journey we need a strong London more than ever.