A History of Britain, 1945 to Brexit

A History of Britain, 1945 to Brexit

A History of Britain, 1945 to Brexit

A History of Britain, 1945 to Brexit

Synopsis

In 2016, Britain stunned itself and the world by voting to pull out of the European Union, leaving financial markets reeling and global politicians and citizens in shock. But was Brexit really a surprise, or are there clues in Britain's history that pointed to this moment? In A History of Britain: 1945 to Brexit, award-winning historian Jeremy Black reexamines modern British history, considering the social changes, economic strains, and cultural and political upheavals that brought Britain to Brexit. This sweeping and engaging book traces Britain's path through the destruction left behind by World War II, Thatcherism, the threats of the IRA, the Scottish referendum, and on to the impact of waves of immigrants from the European Union. Black overturns many conventional interpretations of significant historical events, provides context for current developments, and encourages the reader to question why we think the way we do about Britain's past.

Excerpt

In June 2016, Britain voted to come out of the European Union (EU). Everyone rightly said that this was, and is, a pivotal historic moment. the book can in part be read as showing how Britain has got to this point. This entails looking at the postwar (post–World War II) world, in particular the economic problems, political issues, and social changes leading up to Britain joining the Common Market or European Economic Community, the predecessor of the eu, in 1973. There was the deindustrialization that, without necessarily being linked to this, followed, as well as the more acute pressures arising from globalization, especially from the 1980s, notably the decline of industry, and as a related factor, of the old industrial areas, as well as the marked growth of the service economy, and the rise of London.

As a result of these and other factors, a metropolitan liberal elite emerged and came to dominate both the Conservative and the Labour parties, as well as Britain in general. in turn, there was disillusionment, notably with the rise of Scottish nationalism from the late 1960s, and later, what can be seen, in the vote to leave the eu, as the revolt of the English provinces, both rural and old urban. This vote has led to the probable reshaping of Britain, economically, socially, geographically, and politically, in the next ten or twenty years, a reshaping that will be deeply problematic. This summary provides a chronological dynamic for what is the first historical account of our new dramatically changing times.

Let us turn back to the start. Exhausted by war, Britain in 1945, nevertheless, was victorious and was still the world’s greatest empire. That was, and is, clear. Its subsequent path and destination have repeatedly been unsettled and . . .

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