Open City: London After Brexit

This report considers the challenges Brexit poses for London’s position as a global city and seeks to set out the most urgent areas for action.

The report was written in the period between the EU Referendum of June 2016, and the initiation of negotiations a year later, it therefore reflects the atmosphere of uncertainty and possibility that has accompanied discussions of ‘Brexit before Brexit’, with the June 2017 general election result compounding uncertainty.

In it we set out the most urgent areas for action. Some of these are about influencing the Brexit negotiations, to ensure the best possible outcome for London and the rest of the UK; others are about using Brexit as an opportunity for London to develop innovative solutions to its long-term problems.

We argue that if London is going to maintain its competitiveness from outside the EU,  it will need continued access to international talent, a trade deal that reflects the importance of service sector exports, and new powers over local property taxes, as well as funding for childcare, early years education and apprenticeships.

Report overview

Chapter One looks at the evolution of the global city concept, at London’s success factors and at the growing pains that have accompanied that success;

Chapter Two examines the principal threats posed to London’s economy by Brexit, particularly restrictions on freedom of movement and withdrawal from the EU’s Single Market;

Chapter Three considers policy responses to the specific and urgent skills challenges facing London, from devolved skills funding to regionally managed immigration;

Chapter Four asks how London can be empowered to meet its housing and infrastructure needs, addressing which will be crucial to retaining global talent and serving its expanding population;

Chapter Five argues that radical reform to London’s system of property tax could create a fairer city, a more stable market, and more money to invest in services and infrastructure.


Open letter to Rt Hon David Davis MP

Centre for London coordinated an open letter to Rt Hon David Davis MP published to mark the launch of this report.

Signed by a broad coalition of London businesses, institutions and politicians, including The Mayor of London, the letter called on Government to recognise that a trade-off between access to European markets and restrictions to freedom of movement would be a false and damaging choice for London and the UK.

full list of cosignatories



The report has been produced in partnership with and funded by