Published on 11 January 2024
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New book asks can this disunited kingdom come together again?

Published today, the new book, “Fractured Union” by Michael Kenny, examines the crises and tensions within the British Union and the pessimism within politics about its long-term viability.  

Michael Kenny, Professor of Public Policy at the Bennett Institute, considers how and why politicians across the UK have fanned the flames of national division, explores the complexities and challenges created by devolution across the UK, and asks if this disunited kingdom can come together once again.  

The author draws upon a body of interviews conducted over several years with Ministers, MPs and civil servants. 

Says Prof Kenny: “‘Fractured Union’ addresses the existential question of the survival of the British Union post-Brexit. The fragility of the Union, highlighted by Queen Elizabeth’s death and the ascent of Charles III in September 2022, stems from a prolonged history of political turbulence and declining public confidence in our governing institutions. Yet, despite concerns, the Union often takes a backseat in Westminster politics compared to many other issues.  

“This book focuses on how the political class has struggled to engage productively with devolution. It asks how English voters’ disenchantment with a detached central government has influenced how politicians and bureaucrats regard the UK’s future. How seismic events have fuelled tensions between Westminster and devolved administrations, from the SNP’s election and independence referendum to Brexit and Covid. And what next?” 

Michael Kenny is the inaugural Director of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, at the University of Cambridge. He has written extensively on national identity, territorial politics and governance, and is the author of a prize-winning study of the impact of English nationalism on British politics.

To celebrate the book’s launch, Michael Kenny was joined by Helen Thompson, Professor of Political Economy, Cambridge, to discuss some of the themes explored in “Fractured Union”, on Tuesday 23 January 2024, at Heffers Bookshop Cambridge.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy.

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