At the height of the crisis of the 1970s Tom Nairn published his collection of essays The Break-Up of Britain, which soon became a key intellectual reference point for the Scottish and British left. Post-Brexit, could those same trends that Nairn predicted would lead to the break-up of Britain be returning? In this article, Scott Lavery asks what Nairn can teach us today.
Brexit has thrown the British state into crisis. This week's defeat for Theresa May's proposed deal was the single biggest by a sitting government in the modern era. As Tom Nairn writes, "only a few years ago, the break-up of Britain was almost inconceivable". Not so much anymore. However, these words weren't written in 2019, but 1977. In this, the return of Verso's Weekend Reads, we republish Tom Nairn classic account of the nature, and the twilight, of the British state.