This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Tuesday 27 April 2021, 6.30pm to 7.30pm
  • Location: Online
  • Audience: Open to alumni, staff, students, the public
  • Admission: Free admission

Event details

York Ideas event

Join Gavin Esler as he discusses his new book; a book about history, but also about the strange, complicated identity of Britishness. 

In the past, it was possible to live with delightful confusion: one could be English or British, Scottish or Irish, and a citizen/subject of the United Kingdom (or Great Britain). For years that state has been what Gavin calls a 'secret federation', but without the explicit federal arrangements that allow Germany or the USA to survive.

Now the archaic state, which has no written constitution, is coming under terrible strain. The English revolt against Europe is also a revolt against the awkward squads of the Scottish and Irish, and most English conservatives would be happy to get rid of Northern Ireland and Scotland as the price of getting Brexit done. The pressures to declare Scottish independence and to push for a border poll that would unite Ireland may become irresistible. 

Can England and Wales find a way of dealing with the state's new place in the world? What constitutional, federal arrangements might prevent the disintegration of the British state, which has survived in its present form for 400 years?

Buy a SIGNED copy of Gavin's book from our partner bookseller, Fox Lane books. 

Gavin Esler

Gavin is known for his reporting and presenting work at the BBC, and has been the main presenter on Dateline London on the BBC News Channel and BBC World and numerous other programmes, including Hardtalk. He left the BBC in 2018 and is now a freelance journalist and writer. 

Formerly Gavin was the BBC’s Chief North America Correspondent for eight years, based in Washington and frequently reporting from the White House mostly during the Clinton presidency. He has also reported from countries as diverse as China, Peru, Argentina, Cuba, Brazil, Russia, Jordan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and from the Aleutian Islands, as well as all across Europe. On returning to the UK, he joined the presenting team on the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs programme Newsnight. He is a voting member of BAFTA, Chancellor of the University of Kent and a visiting lecturer in various academic institutions, large corporations, and public service organisations including the British military. Gavin took on the role of moderator for the 2017 ‘How to do Good’ charity-speaker tour in Oslo, Stockholm, The Hague, Brussels, Paris, London and New York.