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From Brexit to the break-up of Britain?
From Brexit to the break-up of Britain?

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4 Summary

This week you were introduced to ways of thinking about some of the differences between the parts of the UK. It is important to be able to identify the ways in which those differences also reflect inequalities of income and power. Some of the processes that generate those inequalities were explained with the help of the notion of uneven development. The extent to which the apparent success of one area might be connected to weaknesses elsewhere was highlighted. And some of the wider consequences of historic patterns of economic (and political) centralisation were explored in a discussion of devolution within and beyond England.

You should now be able to:

  • recognise how uneven development is expressed in the UK’s political and economic geography
  • understand that uneven development is a dynamic process, not just a pattern that can be identified on a map
  • actively reflect on some of the implications of uneven development in the UK both for those areas that are disadvantaged by it and for the broader political economy.

Next week, in Week 3, the course will focus on the particular case of London, not in its own right but as a way into untying some of the complicated knots that surround debates about national identity in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as well as in the UK (or Britain) in the wake of the Brexit vote. In Week 1, Anthony Barnett’s (2017) distinction between the five component parts of the UK was introduced – London, England-without-London, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Often London is simply taken for granted as the driver of the UK’s growth and the epitome of a new economic model based around services and finance. In some versions of this way of thinking, the rest of the UK is imagined as dependent on London’s success. Week 3 starts from the London experience, but in a way that questions those assumptions in order to explore the ways in which London’s dominance has provided the dynamic underpinnings of uneven development across the UK.