The Government must remember the importance of London and other cities’ regional influence on productivity – a problem in the UK even before Covid-19 – without which the entire country could level-down. By focussing on only the short-term operational aspect, large office-based London businesses may see a slight recovery, but support industries around them may collapse which will lead to longer term pain. On this occasion, working together to protect the centre is protecting the rest.
Disraeli, the father of modern Conservatism, famously wrote in his novel Sybil, the nineteenth century equivalent of a docudrama, of “two nations… who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts and feelings as if they were inhabitants of different planets.” Disraeli was speaking of the rich and the poor, the conditions of whom were vastly more stark than today, at the height of the Industrial Revolution. However, one need only to look at a before and after map of the 2019 General Election to see the emergence of two, separate “nations”, particularly in England and Wales; those in the cities and towns – and those who are not.