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Rail stoppage is latest block to business revival

·1-min read
RMT union leader Mick Lynch is unapologetic for calling the rail strike (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)
RMT union leader Mick Lynch is unapologetic for calling the rail strike (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)

Will it ever end? Just when London businesses finally thought the worst was over, bam, along comes a rail and Tube walk-out that will decimate revenues this week.

One central London five-star hotel told me that on Thursday alone it received £80,000 worth of cancellations. Imagine replicating that across the capital, just as the summer gets fully into its stride.

Devastating.

Much of central London feels full, especially at the weekend, but it is clear that still things are far from normal. A profit warning from Rank Group today is being pinned on an absence of foreign high rollers, probably from Asia, at its big London venues.

This week marks the sixth anniversary of the Brexit referendum vote, the event that marked the start of this extraordinary and apparently never-ending period of turbulence. Throw in what will be another grim inflation number on Wednesday, more political fall-out from two by-elections on Thursday, and rumblings of more transport strikes, possibly throughout the summer, and it is hard to foresee the return to any semblance of “business as usual”.

The bigger groups can hope to ride it out but the level of stress — both financial and personal — is hard to imagine. The London business community has proved its resilience at coping with adversity over many decades. But eventually something has to give.

A summer of rail and Tube strikes could well be the final straw for smaller operators who just a few weeks ago were thanking their lucky stars that they had survived the pandemic.

@JonPrynn

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