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Swansea University Academic Delivers Speech on London Post-Brexit


Urban Studies expert, Dr Richard G Smith from the Geography Department, has been speaking about how following Brexit London needs to be confident in furthering its position as the world’s most internationally connected global city and international financial centre.

Arguing that with globalization cities are now as important as nations Richard explored the capital's potential to survive and thrive because it is at the centre of a worldwide network of connected cities in a talk at the main TEDx London event held earlier this month.

Richard is the first academic from Swansea University to be invited to speak at the prestigious UK event.

Given that almost 60% of Londoners voted to remain in the EU, it’s not surprising that the familiar question of whether London should become an autonomous city-state has resurfaced – particularly as negotiations take place over the nature of the UK’s divorce from Europe.

London has become a metropolis that belongs to the world. It is no longer just the capital of the UK: it stands alongside New York as the world’s most important global city and international financial centre.

Richard said in his talk that the idea that London will become an independent city-state is improbable but he said that London is at the centre of a world-wide network of cities which is already in many ways independent of the decisions and actions of nation-states.

Richard concludes that deal or no deal with the EU London’s future is in many ways in its own hands. London needs to stay strong and continue to assert itself as the world’s leading global city because today’s world is one where nation-states are less important than you might think: inter-city relations rather than inter-state relations are the key feature of globalization and that is why London is in many ways already bypassing the nation-state and consequently Brexit.

Richard said:

“My research on world city networks is the highest cited in the world and is now on the AS and A Level Geography syllabus. Consequently, I was invited to speak at the main TEDx London event in June. The event was held at the historic Sadler Wells theatre in central London, and had an audience on the day of 1600 people”.

The theme of the event was ‘confidence is within’ and talks from the day, and live musical performances, were broadcast live over the internet and are available to view on-line.

Richard explained:

“My talk was on ‘London after Brexit’ and advertises the main argument from my research that today’s world is as much about cities as it is about nations; and that to understand London after Brexit we need to change the map in our heads, abandoning the map of the world’s nation-states we all learnt at school to appreciate a new meta-geography: the world city network.

Richard’s TED talk is available on-line here:


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