The eyes of the world will be on London this week as we prepare for the Platinum Jubilee – a truly historic occasion where the country will come together to celebrate Her Majesty’s extraordinary seventy years of service. Here in the City, a national service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral and many other festivities will bring together a diverse range of communities.
Last week, I was lucky enough to travel on the new Elizabeth Line – which has opened just in time for the Jubilee. The City of London Corporation invested heavily in the project, just as we supported the first underground railway back in the 19th century. It is a huge step forward for transport in London, bringing thousands more people within easy reach of the City. It is also a boost for transport for the UK, with quicker journeys to Heathrow Airport and improved connections to HS2 when it comes online.
London is one of the UK’s strongest assets and a major draw for investment into the country. When I travel overseas to promote trade and investment in our financial and professional services, I always find that people look to London as a world-leading city.
We are at the cutting edge of innovation in areas such as fintech, cyber security and sustainability. Anything which holds London back, holds the UK back – whereas a strong London underpins a strong UK. Investing in London’s infrastructure is beneficial for the entire economy.
Investment in better transport links across the UK and in other British cities is important. This should go hand in hand with investment in London, rather than being seen as an alternative to it. For many businesses and investors, London is the front door by which they enter the country. Neglecting the front door is not going to make the rest of the house stronger.
London succeeds when we pull together as a city and when we pull together as a country. When people use the words “London” or “metropolitan”, these shouldn’t feel like an insult. Boosting opportunities and growth all over the country shouldn’t be framed against the capital.
As my medieval predecessor Dick Whittington discovered, the streets of London are not paved with gold. There are significant areas of deprivation across our capital that need to be supported, with many communities who cannot afford to be left behind.
Twenty eight per cent of London residents are living in poverty after housing costs, according for Trust for London research. This is higher than in any other part of the UK. Many of these Londoners are being hit hard by rising inflation.
Through the last two years of the pandemic, different parts of London government, business and society pulled together to bring our capital through to the other side. We need to show that same spirit of unity to support our economic recovery, and to support all our people through the cost-of-living crisis.
The Platinum Jubilee this week will be an important milestone in our nation’s history, and a moment of national unity and joy in a time when many are understandably worried. I hope this week’s celebrations will also mark an important milestone in London’s recovery, where we welcome many more people back to our streets and fulfil our role as a capital city for the whole country.