Quo Vadis Britannia; where is Britain going? With Adrian Favell

September 19, 2022

Professor Adrian Favell, University of Leeds, discusses the United Kingdom after Brexit, Queen Elizabeth, and Boris Johnson, on the International Horizons podcast.

Prof. Adrian Favell against a background of the map and flag of the United Kingdom and a profile of Queen Elizabeth

The United Kingdom has experienced a number of epochal transitions of late, starting with its departure from the European Union in early 2020, and more recently, the replacement of the chaotic conservative leader Boris Johnson by former Foreign Minister Liz Truss, and soon thereafter the passing of Queen Elizabeth after some seven decades on the British throne. In the aftermath of these developments, questions have been raised about the coherence of the United Kingdom, its relationship to Europe, and indeed its standing in the world. Quo Vadis, Britannia?  Where is Britain going?

This week on International Horizons, Professor Adrian Favell, Chair in Sociology and Social Theory at the University of Leeds, talks to Ralph Bunche Institute Director and Graduate Center Presidential Professor John Torpey about this transitional moment in British history and more specifically how the changing economy and demography of the U.K. help explain support for Brexit. Moreover, he challenges the assumption that Brexit support came from “the working class,” as it has more to do with identity politics. Finally, Favell explains the implications of Queen Elizabeth’s death for the future of British nationhood.

Subscribe to International Horizons on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. A lightly edited selection of the transcript follows below. 

Transcript:

John Torpey  00:00

The United Kingdom has experienced a number of epochal transitions of late, starting with its departure from the European Union in early 2020, and more recently, the replacement of the chaotic conservative leader Boris Johnson, by former Foreign Minister Liz Truss, and soon thereafter the passing of Queen Elizabeth after some seven decades on the British throne. In the aftermath of these developments, questions have been raised about the coherence of the United Kingdom, its relationship to Europe, and indeed its standing in the world. Quo Vadis Britannia, where is Britain going? 

John Torpey  00:40

Welcome to International Horizons, a podcast to the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies that brings scholarly and diplomatic expertise to bear on our understanding of a wide range of international issues. My name is John Torpey, and I'm Director of the Ralph Bunche Institute at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. We're fortunate to have with us today Adrian Favell, a leading expert on European migration and integration as well as on contemporary Japanese art. He holds the Chair in Sociology and Social Theory at the University of Leeds, where he directs the Bauman Institute and is incoming director of the Radical Humanities Laboratory at University College Cork in Ireland. He's the author of various works on migration, multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism, and cities, including most recently, The Integration Nation: Immigration and Colonial Power in Liberal Democracies from this year, 2022. In the aftermath of Brexit in the UK, he led the ESRC, that is the Economic and Social Research Council, project, "Northern Exposure: race nation and disaffection in 'ordinary' towns and cities after Brexit". The project has generated a unique oral history archive of the experiences and views of older residents in the north of England since the Brexit referendum. Thanks for joining us today, Adrian Favell.

Adrian Favell  02:16

Thanks, John. 

Adrian Favell  02:17

Great to have you. So let's start with Brexit. The Brexit referendum and the subsequent departure of the UK from the EU was widely an unexpected shock to the world and to Europe. Can you tell us what the UK's departure from the EU has meant in economic and social terms, and indeed in everyday life?

Adrian Favell  02:43

Well, it's certainly been a historical turning point. And I think that, looking back, it's clear that it's really shifted Britain from being at the center of Europe to now being a periphery of Europe. My position has always been that Europe was, in many senses --Britain was in many senses the central focal point of the European dynamic in the 1990s and 2000s. And London, in many ways, was the capital of Europe, it was the city with the most draw, very dynamic economy, very open economy, lots of people moving there to work there. All of that, of course, has come to an end with the Brexit vote, which was a vote in many ways to end freedom of movement in the UK. And I certainly see that as the core driving force of the Brexit vote. 

Adrian Favell  03:45

And so the transformation is dramatic, in that we still are living in Britain, of course, with the consequences of all of the free movement. There's lots of people living in Britain who are EU nationals, who have been in this rather ambiguous status since Brexit; they've effectively become immigrants who now have to kind of adopt a more immigrant attitude towards settlement and becoming citizens of Britain, settling in Britain rather than seeing Britain as one part of Europe that they were living in as Europeans. 

Adrian Favell  04:22

And it shifted, therefore, the kind of economic benefits of European Union in that sense. And we're seeing increasingly, I think over time now, the consequences of Johnson and the Conservative Party's decision to opt out of the free market, the single free market. So now Britain is really having to come to terms with hard borders, and the consequences of taking back control. And having sovereign power over your own legislation and your own markets also means that all of the existing agreements with the EU have broken down or are becoming more difficult. And this is having a lot of impact on everyday life. It's obviously impacting the economy, impacting trade and businesses impacting everyday travel. 

Adrian Favell  05:22

And you know that I think there's been a mental shift as well in the British population. You do feel that there is a sort of sense that suddenly the island mentality is much stronger, perhaps compensated in some ways by aspects of Britain's positioning in the world, and, you know, other international links that it has. But the most obvious links that it was benefiting from were those of its closest neighbors. Over a long period of time, Britain was very central to the European Union project, it got many of the things that it wanted in the European Union. The European Union was coming to resemble Britain economically in many ways over time. Talk about neoliberalism and so on. In many senses, Mrs. Thatcher got the way, the kind of European Union that she wanted. 

Adrian Favell  06:16

And, you know, it's kind of paradoxical, then Britain left it and has paid, is paying a price I think for that. And I think we're also seeing it in the simple fact that there is a real deep existential kind of crisis in British life at the moment. I mean, there's a real sense of, of anxiety, conflict and confusion, I think, about where Britain is going. And of course, when we talk about Britain, we're talking about the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. And there are all kinds of things now up in the air, I think, with Scotland and Northern Ireland, in particular.

John Torpey  07:01

Well, this is obviously very interesting and concerning what you're describing, I mean, Brexit is in some ways, part of a much longer dynamic of the UK's relationship or tension with the continent, and its difference between the island nations and the continent itself. And so, you know, the point that you make about this is a kind of peripheralization of the UK is obviously important. And in the aftermath of this, as I mentioned in the introduction, you've undertaken this project on so called "Northern Exposure”. And, I only saw a little bit of what the work has been about in the film that you pointed me to, but I'd be interested to hear you tell us more about the specifically northern kind of dimension of this dynamic and what you found in this research project.

Adrian Favell  08:05

Yeah. So I've always been a, as you know, kind of international and comparative scholar and always tried to work on Britain in a comparative context and worked internationally. And much of the work that I've been doing last few years has been driven by a necessity of coming to terms with the politics that has been happening in Britain. I also came back to Britain just before Brexit professionally. I was working in France, and I've lived through the transformations and something which obviously has been personally very difficult for me as well, because seeing myself as a strong EU citizen and somebody living in a kind of transnational European space. And all this has led me to conceive of work really on Brexit, to try and try and understand the historical transformation that is taking place. 

Adrian Favell  09:05

I mean, what we've what we've seen, what we're seeing clearly in Britain in the time leading up to Brexit and the period since that has taken us through COVID to the triumph of Boris Johnson, and now the fall of Boris Johnson, and the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth and so on. I mean, this is clearly a huge historical turning point period, I think, in British history. And the project that we put together at Leeds with a team of my colleagues, so it's a really collaborative project with a number of different sociologists, was to do a kind of sociological deep dive on on the kind of underlying histories driving some of the Brexit vote and particularly the sense of disaffection that exists in the country. And a lot of this in popular discussion and in academic analysis was located in the north of England. 

Adrian Favell  09:24

The north of England was seen as a home or heartland of the Brexit vote. And of course, over time, it has also been seen as the crucial part of the country that has shifted its opinions to elect Boris Johnson effectively. So we talk about in Britain the collapse of the red wall. These are former post former industrial heartland towns and cities in the north of England, very much identified with the industrial legacies of these places, working class populations. We're talking about obviously Manchester and Leeds and Newcastle, and other big cities in the north of England. And then the other parts of the north of England around these larger cities, there are a lot of midsize cities, smaller places that are even more dramatic examples of post industrial decline. So we wanted to put together a project out of this, this backdrop, a sociological project that would look at the post industrial legacies and trajectories of parts of the north of England and how that has played into the Brexit vote. 

Adrian Favell  11:35

Identifying, in other words, locations that were typical places where there was a very high vote for Brexit, but also historically very high support for the Labour Party and industrial politics. Places perhaps that are shifting also to vote conservative, but not the big cities where --so we didn't want to locate this in Manchester or Leeds, for example, because these are big cities that actually resemble more London when you go to them. They're cosmopolitan, super diverse places, a lot of incoming populations, a lot of global investment. Cosmopolitan with the culture and the environment and this. So we want to look more at these peripheral urban locations and the second tier of towns and cities. And we chose a number of places across the north, quite famous towns and cities: Preston, Halifax, Wakefield and Middlesbrough. Some people will have heard of them through sports teams, like football teams, typically, you know, often associated with these places. Very strongly proud, strong identity type places that  were often very rich in the past and that was centers of major industries, textile industries in the case of Preston and Halifax, Wakefield is a coal based city with a long long history. Middlesborough is the steel industry, and other heavy industries, chemical industries, and so on. 

Adrian Favell  13:09

These are all industries that substantially collapsed in the 1970s and 80s, have gone through post-industrial transformations, but also quite interestingly diverse places. They're also places as well as white working classes, you have British Asian working classes in large numbers, some Black British, and increasingly significant numbers of the recent migrants to the UK from Eastern Europe, either Polish or Romanian, typically. So there is a kind of super diversity in some of these places, by that super-diversity --this is a concept from Steve Vertovec, the anthropologist --super-diversity is when you have different types of new migrations and often new forms of mobility, so transient populations overlaying on to an existing, relatively stable pattern of, in the British case, post-colonial populations. So we talk about Black British and Asian British as part of a kind of classic post-war immigration and settlement and, in fact, you know, colonial movement within the empire effectively that brought populations to Britain, overlain in the 1990s and 2000s, particularly with a lot of new migrations from Europe, globally other kinds of sources, and especially East European workforces. 

Adrian Favell  14:40

So, this creates a new kind of dynamic and you can imagine a kind of multivariate tension between populations. So, you know, old kinds of racisms towards Black British or Asian British, who in the north of England are predominantly Muslim, Pakistani, origin could still be there and still be part of the race relations of these localities, but the race relations can also involve difficult relationships, say, between Asian British population and incoming East European population. In both directions, you have British Asians effectively rejecting new migrants on the one hand, or you have east Europeans who have certain sorts of racist views who find it difficult being around Black and Brown populations and localities. So that's the sort of backdrop that we're looking at. 

Adrian Favell  15:38

And we had a strong, in "Northern Exposure", we had a strong intuition that race and immigration were a big part of the Brexit vote. And that, in order to understand disaffection, we'd also need to understand how these issues are playing out, and particularly how these issues are playing out in relation to ideas of the nation, and particularly the idea of the sovereign nation that is taking back control of society of the economy, in relation to the European Union, which had forced it to have open borders. This is the kind of rhetoric of course of Nigel Farage and his campaign for the UKIP party (UK Independence Party) that he led the campaign for decades effectively to bring Brexit to the moment to make it happen. 

John Torpey  16:43

Well, I was gonna jump in and say, you know, there's certain aspects of this that sound very familiar from the American story, right? Post-industrial towns, cities that are stripped of their former industrial base, the populations that worked in those industries and enjoyed middle class lifestyles with relatively low levels of education are now facing deterioration, neglect, the phenomenon of deaths of despair, and the attendant sorts of maladies. But the difference, I think, is that what you're describing as this super-diversity. And in the US in recent decades, I mean the immigration profile since 1965, has been utterly transformed. Everybody seems to have thought that that would renew streams of European immigration into the United States, but what actually happened, of course, was huge numbers, relatively speaking, of Latino immigrants, first from Mexico, and now from sort of throughout Latin America. And of course, in some ways, significantly, although I think we're only slowly kind of focusing on this is the significant influx from Asia. Now, the Asian populations are, by and large seen more as a kind of model minority. So, whereas the Latino populations are good workers, but they're brown and maybe not so sophisticated or whatever. And so there's a kind of racial issue there. But, but the Asian population in the United States, the Asian immigrant population is generally seen as a kind of positive for the country, I think. And so in that sense, maybe this is different from what you're describing in the UK, but, I mean, how would you, since you talked about working generally comparatively, how would you see this comparison?

Adrian Favell  19:04

Yeah, so there's been a lot of interaction between analysis on Britain about and by British scholars studying Britain and the US and analysis of the Trump phenomenon and polarization in the US. And our project was set up to challenge what we think are kind of quite simplistic binary polarizations that exist in this literature. And I think this could apply to some extent to the US, but I think is really important in stressing in the UK. Without going into the details about the literature, there have been a number of tropes in the British explanations for Brexit that have been popular amongst public opinion scholars, particularly whose work is driven by survey methodologies, often public survey type --they are often done by private companies-- but surveys that are doing these relatively quick and fast stylized types of surveys on small numbers that generate decisive kinds of results about what supposedly is driving people's new public opinion positions. 

Adrian Favell  20:22

And we've had arguments, therefore, circulating on the one hand about the social spatial polarization that has been going on, particularly between the south of England, the rich southeast of England, London, and all of that, versus the north or versus peripheries. We talk about "the left behind population" as a series of phrases that are very common, I think, in both countries that capture the underlying source of politics, but tend to reduce it to a series of sort of stylized explanations. The "left behind population", the social spatial polarization is one. A second is the something that lays on to this, which is the cultural war explanation: the kind of idea that there's a massive conflict between urban locations with diverse cosmopolitan, young, forward-looking, transforming environments and the left behind peripheries that are stuck in the past national, refusing to change, feeling anxious about globalization, and so forth, whereas the central cities are embodying globalization. And so this is kind of opposition, and the other key opposition, of course, is an idea that we have diversity in urban locations and we have white working classes in periphery locations, and it's specifically a kind of racialized polarization that happens now. 

Adrian Favell  22:01

We wanted to challenge this, partly because there's facts about the North that are really important. That are to do with the fact that the working class is not a white British working class in a kind of traditional sense in any simple way. The working class is substantially minority origin populations. It's Black, and it's Asian British and I stress again, Asian British means South Asian always (it's really we're talking about either people of Indian or Pakistani Bangladeshi origin, usually). Although there is a growing Chinese British population, which is also playing into these issues in some places. So there's the kind of mischaracterization of the working class, a mischaracterization, I think, and this is shown by some of the more sophisticated research on Brexit of where the real heartland of the vote was. It often wasn't in the most periphery, the most marginalized places, people in very marginalized places. And there are some dramatically deprived areas that we've studied as well in this project in places like Middlesbrough, Preston. These places are not places where people vote that much. I mean, people don't vote when they're that marginalized, they're often very alienated and left out of the political process. 

Adrian Favell  23:20

So the locus of voting for Brexit was often particularly, I think, lower middle class suburbs of these industrial towns, which were often white because there was a white flight involved. These are often second, third generation working class British, white British families that had moved away from the inner city urban locations and had those corresponding sorts of attitudes in some sense. So accompli fait the people who might see themselves as working class but who have a large house, a mortgage, and three cars and are, you know, relatively affluent in other measures, but culturally have certain sorts of values that are rooted in that way. And also that we wanted to capture the, you know, this kind of the most obvious stylization that we get in Britain is this middle class educated, globalized people in in London, in the southeast of England, in the north, you have less well educated, working class and highly industrialized populations that are somehow more nationalized. And basically failing to capture the diversity of the north and the fact that you have a range of affluence and diversity --and both ethnic cultural diversity but also socio economic diversity --across the north, and very different historical trajectories in the four towns and cities that have been studying. 

Adrian Favell  24:56

So we wanted to capture all of that, challenge the public opinion research, and challenge also the tendency of other kinds of qualitative researchers to research Brexit by basically doing the kind of voxpop research, which is, you go up to somebody say, "are you angry? you're angry about Brexit, you're angry about British politics?", shove the microphone in their face and people will give you what you kind of asked for; they will express their anger and disaffection that way. We wanted to do something that was opposite methodologically to that. So what we devised really were, yes, looking for people who might have voted Brexit and who would have strong political opinions, and were coming from deprived areas or parts of these different sorts of populations that we're interested in, and would have stories to tell, but really, to talk to people who would have long-term stories, personal stories to tell about these locations and in a sense explaining their own views and so forth against the backdrop of their own lives and the transformations that they've lived through. And we also focus very much on elderly populations. So we ended up doing around 160 oral history interviews with White British, Asian British, Black British, and some East European residents who were long term residents, were over a certain age and who had something to tell us about the social, cultural, economic transformations of the places that they were living in. So they're long term residents of these places. 

Adrian Favell  26:32

And, of course, when you do that, you get a much more complex and nuanced sense of the history that we've been living through, I think. I think it doesn't offer a clearer explanation of Brexit in some sense, but it does offer a much better account of this historical transformation that Britain has been living through. And we combine this with work on with local authorities, with a lot of the third sector people and people working in the local councils, local government, to try and understand also, you know, to help them, first of all, access populations that they found it difficult to talk to, so we were contributing something to them, but also listening very much to their issues of governance in a period where local government has been severely rundown by central government. It has faced austerity, removal of funding, and who then had to face not only the fallout from Brexit, which caused an awful lot of tension and a lot of hate crimes and a lot of aggression and so forth amongst people, but also COVID. And dealing with the COVID crisis that has been a moment of absolute social crisis, where the local authorities are absolutely necessary. 

Adrian Favell  27:52

And we've charted those changes in the stories we've got, the ethnographies we've got. And I think ultimately we're less likely to contribute to the passing literature on Trump and Brexit and the rise of populism, but perhaps we will leave behind a social history of the Brexit/COVID/Johnson period of Britain that I think, as I said, with retrospectively will be seen as a huge turning point in British history. We really don't know where Britain is going at this point, and it seems to be going to a pretty bad place in many ways. I mean, it's not looking very good. But, you know, nor is it looking very good in many other countries currently, politically in terms of future of liberal democracies. So we hope we'll contribute to something to that and tell a kind of social history of the north of England, which is, of course, a peripheral place that has historical significance, but is often left out of discussions of Britain, which are often based on ideas of London or ideas of the southeast of the country.

John Torpey  29:06

Right. So, I mean, I'm very struck by your characterization of Britain as a kind of country adrift. And that can't have been helped by the passing of the monarch who's been in place for 70 years. And so I'm sort of interested in your sense of Britain's place in the world, which is obviously affected by this. And this is not unconnected to your concerns about the recent experiences or long term experiences of people in the north. That is, the monarchy and the empire probably have played a significant role in people's sense of who they were and what Britons were in the world and where the country stood. 

John Torpey  29:56

I always remember, I was in South Africa once, I was watching the sports news. And the big sports news that day was nothing in South Africa; it was the England-Pakistan test match in cricket. And I was sort of, it just opened my eyes to the kind of reality of the ongoing significance of the British Empire in the form now of the Commonwealth. And I gather some people now are talking about, some countries are talking about leaving the Commonwealth because they don't like Prince Charles, and he's going to be the king and that sort of thing. But, you know, in general, the British Empire left behind a significant legacy that's ongoing, that's perhaps less, you know, heralded so to speak now. But so anyway, I wonder what you could say about the place of Britain in the world in the context of this major transformation that you've described so well?

Adrian Favell  30:55

Well, I've just also published a book called The Integration Nation: Immigration and colonial power in liberal democracies. And it draws a lot on on Britain but also other European countries and North America in its account, but it's a theoretical account, in some sense, trying to explain the ongoing ongoing power of Britain and its colonial legacies, which I think are very much centered in the ability of the nation to reconceive itself, rebrand itself in relation to the international diversity of mobile populations and immigration, and particularly multiracial, multi-ethnic diversity within the country. If you can turn that into a feature of the nation, then you have a much more powerful nation in the world that can perhaps maintain a kind of colonial relationship with other places, because it's a desirable location. It's the place people want to move to. And that's kind of what Britain became very much in the 1990s. 

Adrian Favell  32:06

Britain was, I think, on a remarkable trajectory towards not only an extremely dynamic, open global economy, new populations coming in, lots of new migrants from around the world, and European free movers, overlaid onto a multi-racial, post-colonial legacy of the populations we've been talking about, the older, Asian, Black British. And it was kind of working, you know, it was a sort of move towards a new sort of diasporic Britain, where minority identities were becoming very central in the British identity. You had a sense of global positioning that was leading to a kind of, I think, a sort of post national sort of nation in some ways. And it was associated with discussions around multiculturalism, and particularly at the high point of this around 2000 with reflections on "The Future of Multi-ethnic Britain", which is a very important report came out with Bhikhu Parekh, the Parekh Report, that involves scholars such as, particularly Stuart Hall, the famous sociologist, Tariq Modood, and others that were reimagining a positive vision of the nation that might encompass these diversities and the dynamic of change, the global dynamic of change. 

Adrian Favell  33:37

Now, what sadly has happened since 2000, and this is my account of course, is a massive rolling back and rowing back from that kind of high point of the sort of post-national, diasporic, multicultural, multiracial Britain to something that is, has kind of lost the plot in some sense in terms of benefiting from diversity and openness. I think there is a rebordering that has gone on in Britain. It started under New Labour, because New Labour basically got cold feet over this report, they were attacked very heavily in the press. And it was the beginning, I think, also of the anti-Europeanism that ultimately led towards Brexit, because there was a sense of too much diversity, too much change, too much transformation. Britain was going too fast. There was of course an economic crisis, though at first there was 9/11, there was an economic crisis, there was other crises on the horizon. These things have built up towards a particular sort of political reaction that leads to Brexit. So this is a long term account. 

Adrian Favell  34:43

Now, what we're seeing, I think, with the death of Queen Elizabeth, and the period of mourning and celebrations of her and of her reign and so forth is very straightforwardly a reaffirmation of British nationalism and British sovereign power and British colonial power. That's what it is; it's a brand in the world. It's powerful, often for cultural reasons; soft power is the key to British power, of course. But let's not also avoid the fact that soft power also masks an awful lot of historical hard power. And a country, a nation in Europe that has never adequately come to terms with what it did in colonial terms. Britain has always been a good guy, it's always been on the winning side, it was always the, you know, the nice colonial nation against other European evil nations or whatever. It simply has not come to terms with historically with these things. 

Adrian Favell  35:46

Now, I wouldn't want to predict what's going to happen, the upshot of: is this a final hurrah for the royal family? Or is this ongoing proof of the power of Britain in sovereign terms, cultural terms? I think we'll have to see. The royal family's always been very good at maintaining its position. I think there's very little appetite for republicanism in Britain. But we may see the Scottish and the Irish moving away. And we may see other Commonwealth countries really thinking "well, do we really want Prince Charles on our currency as king?' and so on. There may be a loss of power. 

Adrian Favell  36:27

I do think Britain is facing a bit of a crisis because it can't --I mean, Alan Millwood studied attempts in the 1950s, for example, to keep Britain out of the EU and embed Britain in its Commonwealth and in its global positioning. We had all the global Britain rhetoric in the 1950s not joining the EU. And it just wasn't an option. In the mid to longer term, Britain had to be part of the EU to really be a viable proposition in the world. And I think that is still the case. We have a lot of new deals and so forth around the world in terms of trade terms, but it's just nothing to replace, it just really does not replace the basic economic interdependence that Britain had with the continent and continues to have but now is made incredibly difficult by paperwork and borders and the stuff that happens when it walked out of the single market. 

Adrian Favell  37:29

Obviously, other people would have other views about British power in the world. And  I do want to sort of stress that, not to underestimate the soft power and cultural power of Britain. It's remarkable just what kind of attention Britain gets given its size and so forth. But that is also rooted in colonial mentalities and longer histories that are built upon myths. And I think delusions about British history that we see playing out over and over again in British politics. And the shocking part is that really 20 to 30 years ago, it really looked like Britain was going in a different direction. And I think Britain was modernizing in a very different way that put it in a very strong position in Europe, and it was benefiting massively from its EU membership. And unfortunately, it was never made politically sustainable. And there was always the risk with the particular British political system that a very small part of the extreme right of the Conservative Party could seize the agenda and force what has effectively happened and where we're at now.

John Torpey  38:40

Right? So Britain has to deal with the vice of the virtue of reasserting its sovereignty, it sounds like. But I wonder what you would say looking at it sort of from the other direction. I mean, how is Brexit affecting the EU? I mean, there were a lot of concerns during the debate over Brexit that this would be the beginning of a broader movement that other countries would seek to pull out. And I can't say I've seen a lot of that, but I'd be interested in your thoughts on the implications of Brexit for Europe itself or for the European Union.

Adrian Favell  39:22

I think we should be clear that the EU is in crisis, it's in deep crisis. Not just because of Britain deciding to leave, although I think this was a terrible moment for the EU. And I think it was that EU power was very much based on the uneasy balance of Germany, France and Britain, particularly as the major powers and the way in which that enabled other smaller powers to operate in a space. Britain was influential very much on the direction of the EU. And you can sort of see that continuing to be the case. I think, in some ways, the EU can get on with its own mission without Britain; in certain ways, it will do okay without Britain. 

Adrian Favell  40:08

But we do have a crisis in the EU. The EU has become a much less attractive proposition in recent years with both its economic policies and its policies around borders. We've got rogue states in Hungary, Poland potentially, that are not playing by the rules. The crisis is out there. Against that, you see, the relative stability of Germany. And a sense that there is a kind of, you know, there is a sort of stabilizing factor in some sense with EU membership holding together nations. And we might anticipate this, you know, the big crises that are around the corner economically in terms of inflation, cost of living and so forth. It will obviously be interesting to see whether the EU, the larger collective like the EU, whether is it better than Britain, which seems very vulnerable at the moment too. So I think it has been a problematic moment for the European Union. And it's also created new problems around membership with countries like Ireland and their relationship to the two sides. And it's still hard to see, really anybody ultimately benefiting from the fact that Britain is no longer part of a, of a collective power that was able to kind of organize itself on a continental level, including Britain. And, you know, I think we're going to be living with the consequences of this for quite some time.

John Torpey  40:10

Right, so we'll have to have you back and discuss that all further in due course, but for now, that's it for today's episode. I want to thank Adrian Favell of the University of Leeds for sharing his insights about recent developments in the UK and the European Union. Remember to subscribe and rate International Horizons on SoundCloud, Spotify and Apple podcasts. I want to thank Oswaldo Mena Aguilar for his technical assistance as well as to acknowledge Duncan Mackay for sharing his song "International Horizons" as the theme music for the show. This is John Torpey, saying thanks for joining us, and we look forward to having you with us for the next episode of International Horizons.