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Why the government’s dreams of techno-nationalist glory are really a throwback to the past

If No 10 is to turn its plan into reality, it needs to learn lessons from recent industrial history

By Guy de Jonquières  

Photo: PA Archive/PA Images

In 1963, newly-elected Labour prime minister Harold Wilson vowed to forge national economic renewal in “the white heat of scientific revolution.” But his government soon became side-tracked by other priorities and little came of his big idea. Now, almost 60 years later, Boris Johnson, his Tory successor, is reviving it. But will he prove any more successful at transforming rhetoric into reality?

Reeling off Britain’s past scientific and technological achievements, Johnson envisages its future as a “scientific superpower,” its…

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