Change Britain, Stop Brexit: A Lecture by Will Hutton


The panel, L to R: Will Hutton, PEF Chair Patrick Allen, SOAS Professor Jan Toporowksi and PEF Council member Professor Stephany Griffith-Jones

All photos of the event can be found on our Flickr page.

On 9 October 2018, political economist and PEF Council member Will Hutton gave a fiery address on Brexit, austerity and the reforms needed to break away from Britain’s “insupportable” status quo in SOAS’s Brunei Lecture Theatre as the second installment in PEF’s public lecture series, following Lord Skidelsky’s lecture on the lessons Keynes can offer today’s Left. 

In his address, Will outlined in detail the deep economic and social divisions that provided the backdrop to the Brexit referendum, and laid out an ambitious programme of major institutional reform that would work to redress these. Building on the themes in his most recent work, Saving Britain, he argued that the problems with British capitalism were firmly minted at home, not in Brussels, and that the UK would be best poised to make necessary reforms if it remained a member of the EU. (A full transcript of the lecture can be found here.)

Will was joined on the panel by Patrick Allen, Stephany Griffith-Jones and Jan Toporowski. PEF Chair Patrick Allen delivered the opening address, in which he discussed the research on links between austerity and Brexit. In her comment on Will’s speech, PEF Council member Professor Stephany Griffith-Jones (Columbia University and University of Sussex) argued that “Brexit is a right-wing project to finalise the Thatcherite revolution” and that the public investment programme Britain sorely needs would be most easily implemented were Britain to stay in the EU. Professor Jan Toporowski (SOAS) developed the idea of definancialising the UK economy as part of a programme of reform in his comment.

The lecture and panel discussion was followed by a lively Q&A, covering issues as diverse as how to reform the welfare system, gender and political reform post-Brexit and the question of a “British” identity. The evening then concluded with a drinks reception in the Brunei Building. All photos of the event can be found on our Flickr page.

We will be hosting more public lectures by our Council members in the coming months. To keep up to date on these and our other areas of work, please follow us on Twitter (@pef_online) and sign up to our mailing list.

Banner photo credit: Flickr / Giles Turnbull