Shortly before 6 a.m., Zahra Bakkali tiptoed out of her bedroom for morning prayers. She prepared breakfast (black tea and toast with olive oil), saw her children off to school, then rode the elevator to the garage below her southeast London housing project. She unlocked her white Toyota Prius , switched on the Uber app and awaited the day’s first job.
In a modest bungalow on the opposite side of the city, Paul Walsh had coffee and toast with butter. He studied the sports pages (his soccer team, Queens Park Rangers, had been struggling) and waved goodbye to his wife and son. Then he fired up his black cab, which is actually half-pink with an Elvis ad from the Memphis tourism board, and set off for Heathrow Airport.
They travel the same streets every day, strangers but also adversaries in what has become a familiar 21st-century conflict: the sharp-elbowed ride-hailing company Uber, versus entrenched taxi companies.
And yet the clash in London is different, less about the disruptive power of an app, or a new business model, than about the disruption of Britain. London’s cabby wars echo the culture wars that fueled Britain’s vote last summer to leave the European […]