The Great Realignment

Britain’s Political Identity Crisis

Wednesday 13 September 2017, 7pm | Emmanuel Centre

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Is Britain facing an identity crisis? The traditional dividing lines of left and right seem to be dissolving into new political tribes – metropolitan liberals versus the culturally rooted working classes, graduates versus the uneducated, the young versus the old. In the recent general election, traditional Labour heartlands like Mansfield, for instance, have now gone Conservative. At the same time, wealthy areas such as Kensington have shockingly swung to Corbyn. Britain seems utterly confused about its politics. As the far left and Eurosceptic right have gained strength, much of the country has been left politically homeless.

So what’s going on? How will these new alignments play out as the country faces the historic challenge of leaving the EU and forging a new relationship with the rest of the world? Are the Conservatives really up to the job, as they bicker over what kind of Brexit they want and jostle over who should replace the ‘lame-duck’ Theresa May? Is it now unthinkable that Jeremy Corbyn could be the next prime minister?

To explore these questions and many more, Intelligence Squared is bringing together the most experienced Westminster politicians with some of the country’s most outspoken political analysts. Taking to the stage will be Ken Clarke, Father of the House of Commons and the most senior Conservative voice in Parliament, and Hilary Benn, the Labour MP who as Chair of the Brexit Select Committee will be in charge of holding the government to account for Brexit. Joining them will be Helen Lewis, deputy editor at the New Statesman and prominent journalist on the left, David Goodhart, author of one of the most talked about analyses of British politics and the rise of populism, and Anand Menon, senior King’s College Professor and one of this country’s top experts on Britain’s relationship with Europe.

Looming over the current turmoil is the biggest question of all: What kind of Britain do we want to live in? What are the values that should hold our society together?

Come to the Emmanuel Centre on September 13th and join in the debate with the country’s most senior politicians and original thinkers.


Hilary Benn

Senior Labour Party MP representing Leeds Central, who has served in various Labour cabinets and shadow cabinets since 2003, most recently as shadow foreign secretary and as chair of the Brexit select committee. His speech on military intervention in Syria was described as ‘one of the truly great speeches in Commons history’.

Kenneth Clarke

Former chancellor under John Major who has also served in various Conservative governments as home secretary, Lord Chancellor and justice secretary, education secretary and health secretary. He was made ‘Father of the House’ earlier this year as parliament’s longest-serving MP, representing the constituency of Rushcliffe since 1970. A staunch Remainer, he was the sole Conservative MP to vote against article 50.

David Goodhart

Founding editor of Prospect magazine who is currently head of the Demography, Immigration and Integration Unit at the think tank Policy Exchange. His recent book The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics is one of the most influential post-Brexit analyses and was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. His previous book The British Dream: Successes and Failures of Post-War Immigration was runner-up for the Orwell Prize in 2014 and was a finalist for ‘Political Book of the Year’ in the Paddy Power Political Book Awards.

Helen Lewis

Deputy editor at the New Statesman and prominent journalist on the left, who also writes a weekly technology column for the Sunday Times magazine and has written for the Financial Times and New York Times.

Anand Menon

Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at King’s College London, and Director of UK in a Changing Europe, an authoritative, non-partisan initiative researching the complex relationship between the UK and the European Union.


Jonathan Freedland

Guardian columnist, broadcaster and author.



Speakers are subject to change.


David Goodhart image courtesy Karen Gordon Photography.