Review of Saving Britain

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For those who live outside of Britain, it’s tempting to assume that London, with its soaring real estate values, thriving financial sector and elite universities, represents the whole of the United Kingdom. In truth, as Will Hutton of Hertford College and House of Lords Labour member Andrew Adonis report, Britain is deeply divided between the prosperous Thames Valley and the struggling mining and manufacturing regions. The wages of those who are employed in Mansfield, for instance, are 19% below the national average. Indeed, many parts of the UK are poorer than the United States’ West Virginia and Mississippi – and voters in these forgotten corners of the UK went overwhelmingly for Leave in 2016.

When these voters cast their ballots in favor of Brexit, they made a mistake based on flawed information, Hutton and Adonis argue. Yes, citizens who voted Leave were correct to register their displeasure with the direction of Britain’s economics and politics. But, the authors argue, the notion that Brexit will fix these problems is pure fantasy. Brexit will only make Britain’s woes worse. Hutton and Adonis suggest an alternative path, one that has the UK staying in the EU and instead making ambitious, politically difficult reforms at home. Dyed-in-the-wool Leavers won’t be swayed, but Hutton and Adonis serve up some intriguing policy options, such as requiring 16- and 17-year-olds to vote. getAbstract recommends this concise tome to readers looking for trenchant analysis of the UK’s domestic political battles.

About the Authors

Will Hutton is principal of Hertford College, Oxford, co-founder of Big Innovation Centre and columnist for the Observer. Andrew Adonis is a Labour member of the House of Lords and visiting professor at King’s College London.


Here are nine takeaways from Saving Britain:

1. In modern Britain, geography is destiny.

In modern Britain, where you’re born increasingly determines your future, Will Hutton and Andrew Adonis argue. Voters in Reading and other prosperous cities in the Thames Valley may have little reason to question the status quo. Their careers seem promising, their children’s futures bright. Indeed, Inner London is the most affluent region in Europe. But fully seven of northern Europe’s 10 poorest regions are also located in England. In Mansfield, Chatham, Doncaster, Corby, Stoke, Southend and other struggling cities, many voters feel – rightly –  their prospects are bleak. Former mining communities have been deteriorating for decades, yet much of the UK’s government spending remains directed toward London. While London accounts for just 15% of the populace, it gets 35% of the UK’s infrastructure budget. According to Hutton and Adonis, it makes sense that the Brexit vote in June 2016 fell clearly along economic lines as voters in long-ignored regions of Britain lashed back at the political establishment.

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