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A final foreword—”Brexit”

After five and a half years as Editor, I am stepping down

By Bronwen Maddox   July 2016


Find the full July 2016 issue of Prospect here

This is the last editorial I’ll write at Prospect; I am stepping down as Editor after five and a half years. It’s been a privilege to edit the magazine, and at such a febrile time in the world, a fascinating and absorbing pleasure.

We live in excessively interesting times, to appropriate the phrase. The European Union referendum is the turning point of a generation, as George Osborne writes in this issue; Anatole Kaletsky spells out why Brexit is only one of three shocks that could turn comparative stability into global turmoil. The report of the Chilcot inquiry into Iraq will follow a fortnight later; while a review of a historical controversy it will also have huge impact on views of Tony Blair and of Britain’s capacity for military action in the future. In our cover story I give my view of the implications, drawing on my recent long interview with Blair.

In the past five years Prospect has set out to answer the central question of how people want their countries to be run. More widely, though, we have explored the ideas and trends shaping our time, whether expressed through politics, economics, culture, science and philosophy. Those include the causes of the financial crisis, whether we have reached “the end of growth,” the revolution that technology is bringing to work, the rise of inequality and the lack of rise in wages, the tension between security and freedom, and the state of anguished agnosticism about whether we can really help another country develop. We have found more optimism in science and innovation; even in these few years, scientific discoveries have been immense. This issue’s arts and books section is an example of what Prospect does best—bringing out the deeper ideas behind the best writing.

I’m honoured to have worked with such excellent writers, and delighted to have had the chance to meet and correspond with so many of you as readers. I’m proud too, as Prospect’s Chief Executive, to have left it with a record high and fast-rising circulation, greater influence and international presence, a lively website which extends the debate, and a packed programme of talks and events. In September I will become the next Director of the Institute for Government, which sets out to look at why decisions are so often made so badly, despite the efforts of smart, dedicated people and regardless of political ideology. I’ll continue to write widely, on many issues and in many places.

I’ll hand over for a couple of issues to the excellent team at Prospect anchored by Jay Elwes, who’s been a superb Deputy Editor, before Tom Clark, the new Editor, then starts. I wish them and him all the best.

One final word. You cannot, obviously, as readers know that over the years I’ve suppressed many (not all) of the gently mischievous puns that Jay would like to have inserted into headlines. I’ll grant him one last concession, then—his conviction that my departure from Prospect is best captured in the word otherwise used for Britain leaving the EU that is also the title of this column.

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