In the wake of Brexit: referendum reaction

Crisis is perhaps the most overused term in the lexicon of British politics. But for once, it fits the bill. A dramatic economic shock, the future of the union in jeopardy, our place in the world in flux, a political class found wanting, a prime minister jettisoned. Look past the campaign and we find the result has many authors — among them deep political and economic forces that, if hardly new, have now been laid bare. We have experienced a slow, steady rupture between generations, geographies and social classes, divides cultural as much as material that will test — possibly to breaking point — the strength of the coalitions of interest that bound together our main political parties throughout the 20th century. Meanwhile, our open, flexible, service-based economy has — despite its strengths — failed to generate enough shared prosperity to reach across the whole nation including into former industrial heartlands. Like other mature economies, we struggle to find a politically sustainable accommodation with globalisation. All this needs to be reckoned with by a governing class completely overwhelmed with the fallout of leaving the EU and at a time when our political leaders seem far smaller than the events they grapple with. A crisis indeed.

This first appeared in the Observer.

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