A look at our latest issueby Bronwen Maddox / May 21, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2015 issue of Prospect Magazine
The next five years will determine Britain’s place in the world for many years after that. As Adam Posen says, if the country contrives to fall out of the European Union and to relinquish Scotland, it will be a distinctly less interesting ally for the United States. And as Anatole Kaletsky writes, the chance of either currently makes the UK “Europe’s most unpredictable country.” The danger of the twin battles of this parliament is that victory goes to those who appear to care most, and the Brexit brigade and the Scottish secessionists have a headstart in the profession of public passion.
It is curious, as Bill Emmott says, that a country enjoying the most rapid recovery from recession in the developed world is so short of confidence. Looking back, it’s clear that failure in Afghanistan and Iraq hit British confidence in its ability to influence the world much harder than it did American, even though both military campaigns were led from Washington and the worst mistakes conceived there. Much the same goes for the legacy of the 2008 financial crisis for the UK; the bitterness of political divisions over the coalition’s austerity programme has been a real cost to the national sense of cohesion, which Christine Lagarde’s tributes to the quarterly economic growth figures do not salve. It was almost palpable during the last parliament how the national sense of what Britain could do abroad withered and shrank—and the sense of what it should even try to do, along with it.