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

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

From Brexit to the break-up of Britain?

4 Summary

Over the last week the focus has been on exploring some of the ways in which uneven development found an expression in the referendum vote by looking out through the lens of London to the rest of the UK. You have been introduced to the role that London and its wider city region play in shaping the UK’s economic geography, as well as in framing political debate. The idea that London’s position should be taken for granted as a necessary outcome of wider (global) forces has been questioned. As well as highlighting London’s role in the uneven development of the UK, the importance of recognising the significance of division and inequality within London was also stressed. The Remain vote in London was not simply a vote of those benefiting from its role as world city.

You should now be able to:

  • work confidently with the notion of uneven development, drawing on the experience of London within the UK to do so
  • understand that uneven development is not a one way process, recognising the significance of inequality within London, as well as between London, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the regions of England beyond the South East
  • identify how the complex patterns and processes of uneven development found expression in the referendum vote.

The weight of London and South East England at the heart of the UK’s political settlement is not a new phenomenon. But its particular contemporary form certainly is, because of the ways in which today’s London is linked into wider global circuits of finance and service industries. It is no longer at the centre of a global empire, even a declining and fading one, but is one node among others. It no longer has the central position of capital city of the UK as imperial state. Its repositioning is a response to living in a post-imperial, yet increasingly globalised, world. The networks that matter are international and even transnational, linked through financial transactions and complex patterns of trade.

In this new world London is sometimes understood to be in but no longer really of the UK (as the article by David Lammy implied). And that means that its centrality in UK-wide debates can no longer be assumed. As Ash Amin, Doreen Massey and Nigel Thrift (2003) suggest, the UK becomes decentred. And this process is reinforced by processes elsewhere in the UK because the end of empire has also had fundamental implications for its other cities. Many of them, including Glasgow and Belfast, were also once deeply embedded in the imperial project, supplying ships and heavy engineering (as well as people), but that is no longer an option. As a result, some of the political and economic glue that held together the UK in the context of empire is no longer able to do so.

Next week, the course turns to consider some of the effects of these shifts on the UK and its future as a multinational state.

BRE_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371