Moving national politics to the Midlands would be hugely symbolic, economic and practical move by new prime minister Theresa May.
Symbolic because she has spoken about the need to unite the country and make it work for everyone. During the EU referendum campaign and result, much was spoken about the divisions between London and other parts of England – between the remainers and Brexiteers.
Moving the Houses of Parliament to Birmingham would show Mrs May is serious about trying to unite the country in a way never tried before. In fact, it would reflect her cabinet which has been as much as trying to unify as stamping her own mark on government.
It would also be a massive economic move, giving the Midlands another boost and showing that it’s not just London that matters – even if that’s clearly not the case. It could help move away from what some see as the lop-sided development of the UK, where London is dominant. Supporting the rest of the country is just as important.
It’s also extremely practical because the Houses of Parliament are in need of major renovation work. A rolling programme of work could cost around £5.7 billion, while a full move out would mean the work could be done more quickly and avoid disruption to parliamentary business. The cost for this option has been put at £3.9 billion with the work completed within six years.
Of course, accommodation could be found in Birmingham (or even another location outside of London) to house MPs, peers and their support staff for this period. Shifting Whitehall departments might also be required.
* Of course, it wouldn’t just be up to Mrs May, the parliamentary authorities and parliamentarians would also have to have a say – but wouldn’t it be an incredible statement to make the move permanent and turn the old London parliament buildings into a museum?
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