Could London Become Independent & Rejoin the EU? Hundreds Of Thousands Of People Want To
Last week, the people of the United Kingdom made a choice with some staggering implications. In a national referendum, a narrow majority voted to withdraw from the EU, to end a more than 40-year tenure within the European community. That hasn't actually happened yet, to be clear ― the parliament still has to take action to initiate the split, and there's still some potential intrigue about how, when, and even whether that'll happen. Assuming it does, though, here's a question. Could London rejoin the EU by itself, even if the rest of the country leaves and never returns?
If you're a resident of the United Kingdom who supported Remain, or you believes in the importance of a unified EU regardless of where you live, it's not hard to see why you might be wondering about this. Since last Thursday, there have already been rumblings about ways Scotland and Northern Ireland might stay within the EU, as the citizens in both voted to remain by wide margins.
This was also true of London. Nearly 60 percent of Londoners voted in favor of the UK's membership in the EU, which might make you wonder whether the city might seek a way to maintain its ties as well. There's been some mainstream discussion about this idea, with a petition in favor netting more than 175,000 signatures.
Unfortunately, you may be in for some disappointment. That's because Scotland and Northern Ireland both possess some dramatic yet entirely realistic options to divorce themselves from the United Kingdom and then pursue their own agreements with the EU (although in the latter case, there are real, historically-rooted concerns about what that might entail).
In Scotland's case, where 62 percent of voters sided with staying in the EU, there was a national referendum on independence from the UK just two years ago. And even though it lost by about 11 points, the simple fact that an independent Scotland was already on the minds of so many could end up greasing the wheels for a redo. Outgoing British Prime Minister David Cameron ― who was the one who agreed to the Brexit referendum in the first place ― is obviously against this.
London, sad as it is to say, has no such recourse, with no history or precedent as a state. While Northern Ireland and Scotland can still execute plans to secure their respective EU memberships going forward, both being countries of the United Kingdom, London is both only a city and the seat of power for the entire UK. There's no way around it, unless you're hoping London will become it's own, heavily insulated city-state, which is unlikely in the extreme.
The only real, practical chance that London remains in the EU at this point is if the British parliament doesn't invoke Article 50. And thus far, nobody seems eager to get it over with. Despite pressure to take action from EU officials, Cameron is passing the job off to whomever replaces him — widely expected to be former London Mayor Boris Johnson.