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.