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Wilson Lecture

23 May 2024 | 18:00 - 19:00 |
Fitzwilliam College

The politics of place – from Brexit to the UK general election, 2024

Professor Michael Kenny will explore some of the different ways in which ‘place’ is increasingly exercising an impact upon political life and policy choices in the UK. People living in different kinds of area tended to vote on opposite sides of the Brexit referendum, and some see the outcome of the vote as a British version of a wider trend in western democracies – with people in metropolitan cities holding very different political worldviews to the inhabitants of ‘peripheral’ areas. The levelling up agenda assembled during Boris Johnson’s tenure as Prime Minister was intended to address some of these underlying issues but has not yet come to fruition. And the governance of place has become an increasingly important, and contentious, question in England where there is an on-going push to establish more ‘metro mayors’ and combined authorities, but in some places it is much harder to get this model to take root. More widely still, the establishment of devolved governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, has raised difficult questions about the coherence of the UK’s Union and the ability of an increasingly stretched central government to manage this complicated and unbalanced model. The lecture will finish by looking at how issues associated with ‘place’ will affect the coming UK general election, and will ask what Britain’s politicians can do to bridge the divisions associated with the UK’s increasingly fractured Union.