Colin Hay’s commencement lecture – entitled ‘Brexistential Crisis? Making Sense of British Politics after Brexit’ – was delivered to an engaged audience of students and staff of the University of Sheffield on Thursday 16 March.
Starting with a contextualisation of Brexit, his presentation drew on the final chapter of Developments in British Politics 10, published last November. He focused initially on how British politics has changed in the 33 years since the first edition of this book was published in 1983. He suggested that the result of the referendum was exceptional in that it was the largest number of votes for anything in UK history. The turnout for the referendum was 72.2% and 51.9% of those voting voted to leave. Colin went on to consider the reasons for the ‘Leave win’, arguing that the outcome represented the failure of a certain style of politics and the rejection of ‘expert-ocracy’ and ‘elite parternalism’ (“the EU is good for you because we tell you so”).
The second part of his presentation addressed the economic consequences of Brexit, including a worsening of the terms of trade, a reduction in the supply of skilled labour and the likely lessening of inward Foreign Direct Investment. As for the political consequences, the effect of Britain’s prospective withdrawal from the EU is already being felt with the growing threat of the break-up of the United Kingdom. It is also possible, he suggested, that the May government may be pushed towards the further ‘Anglo-liberalisation’ of an already failing Anglo-liberal growth model.
Many good questions were asked by members in the Q&A that followed the lecture.
You can access the slides of the lecture here and watch the lecture below.