Britons don’t want to see London lose capital status

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
November 27, 2018, 12:58 PM GMT+0

Few Britons would support relocating the capital, but if they had to choose a new home, they’d choose Manchester

In the last couple of years the case has been made in both The Economist and The New Statesman to move Britain’s capital from London to Manchester.

The argument goes that it would boost growth and jobs in the North and Midlands and reduce the negative impact of London sucking investment and talent out of other parts of the UK.

Such a move is not without precedent. In the last few decades Nigeria, Myanmar, Russia and Kazakhstan have all moved their capitals, and Egypt is planning to move its own to a new purpose-built city next year.

Among the general public there is little appetite for such a move, however. Only one in eight Britons (12%) support moving the capital out of London. By contrast, almost three quarters (72%) are opposed.

Those living in the North of England and Scotland are the most in favour of moving the capital, but even among these groups such a change isn’t very popular – only 19% of Northerners and 18% of Scots want to see London lose its capital city status.

Unsurprisingly, Londoners themselves are even less keen on the idea – a parallel survey of London respondents asking the same set of questions found only 9% would support sending the capital away.

Manchester is the most popular site for a capital relocation

Nevertheless, if the decision were made to move the capital, where would Brits be most happy for it to go?

Manchester emerges here as the clear winner, backed by more than one in four Britons (27%). This rises to 42% in the North.

Coming in second place is Birmingham, on 19%, followed by Liverpool and Cambridge in joint-third on 16% apiece.

Of the 14 cities we asked about, Belfast was the least popular site for the capital to move to, at just 4%.

Notably, Manchester is the only city that the majority of people who would support moving the capital in the first place would be happy to see it moved to, at 61%.

Among this group Liverpool is a more popular choice for capital than Birmingham, at 40% vs 38%.

Photo: Getty

Full tables coming shortly