John Harris

Journalist & Author

London has become a citadel, sealed off from the rest of Britain | John Harris

Ukip and Scottish nationalism are symptoms of public hostility to the overweening power and dominance of the capital

Last week, an empty if sizable garage in Camberwell somewhere to put a car, that is, not a repair business or petrol station was sold at auction for £550,000, having been put on the market by Southwark council as a "development opportunity". A man from property website Zoopla told the Financial Times that "the buyer could create a significant return despite paying what seems like an extortionate premium today". In other words: bring us your sheds, kennels and cupboards, and watch the capital’s globalised alchemy turn them to gold.

This much we know: even if George Osborne’s property bubble is lifting prices all over the UK, London has long since left everywhere else behind. Over the past year, property values in the capital have risen by 18% and the gap between prices there and the rest of the UK is the biggest since records began. The average monthly London rent is now £1,126. Having moved out in 2004, I know what this means: unless you are an international plutocrat, a highly paid City type or someone either clinging on in social housing or putting up with life in a shared hovel, it is an increasingly impossible place to live.

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