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Why tax is actually taxing

Dividing up the UK’s revenue among all its nations is a tricky task

By Jonathan Portes  
The Duke of Queensbury, Commisioner to the Scottish Parliament, presents the Act of Union to Queen Caroline Credit: Alamy

The Duke of Queensbury, Commisioner to the Scottish Parliament, presents the Act of Union to Queen Caroline Credit: Alamy

It’s no secret that the UK’s constitutional arrangements are creaking under the strain of Brexit as well as Scottish nationalism. Equally pertinent to the political and economic debate is how—and to what extent—the state redistributes through tax and spending. The UK is an outlier among advanced economies regarding the extent to which fiscal functions are both centralised and politicised.

Julian Hoppit’s new book brings together these two themes. The current debate over what Boris Johnson calls “levelling up” the north, and the supposedly disproportionate share of public expenditure allotted to London and the southeast—or the fiscal “black hole”…

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