All in it Together: Excesses and venality of pre-Brexit Britain

Alwyn Turner maps 21st century erosion of trust in elites of British politics and society

Nigel Farage:  “A late-1970s chancer: pinstripe suit, cigar in one hand, glass of malt in the other, the kind of man who’d bunk off work to go to the races, roar with laughter at off-colour jokes, leave no corner uncut when dealing with taxes and expenses.”  Photograph: Carl Court/Getty

Nigel Farage: “A late-1970s chancer: pinstripe suit, cigar in one hand, glass of malt in the other, the kind of man who’d bunk off work to go to the races, roar with laughter at off-colour jokes, leave no corner uncut when dealing with taxes and expenses.” Photograph: Carl Court/Getty

Five years after Britain voted to leave the European Union, many of the predicted consequences are manifest, from a sharp drop in trade with Europe to political instability in Northern Ireland and a rise in support for independence in Scotland and even in Wales. Brexit’s champions identify the comparative speed of Britain’s coronavirus vaccine rollout as one of its early bounties, although most of the decisions that led to it would also have been possible within the EU and the vaccine gap with Europe is already closing fast.

Although Boris Johnson banned ministers and officials from using the word Brexit after the country’s formal departure last year, he has recently rediscovered the political advantage of keeping its controversies alive. Under Keir Starmer, Labour has avoided blaming Brexit for any of the country’s ills, fearful of further alienating the party’s former supporters in the Midlands and the north of England who voted for it.

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