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‘Levelling up’ in post-Brexit United Kingdom: Economic realism or political opportunism?

Hudson, Ray

‘Levelling up’ in post-Brexit United Kingdom: Economic realism or political opportunism? Thumbnail


Ray Hudson


Following the 2019 general election, the Prime Minister claimed that leaving the EU would enable him to ‘get Brexit done’ and introduce policies to “level up” inequalities in a post-EU UK. There still is, however, considerable uncertainty as to exactly what the government means by this, though it seemingly includes reducing differences in economic performance and opportunities between North and South in England, how it will achieve this goal and how ‘levelling up’ relates to the policy objective of restoring national economic growth, and with the added complication of also seeking a transition to a zero-carbon green economy and society. This ambition to ‘level up’ became even more challenging as COVID-19 both further revealed and reinforced existing deep socio-spatial inequalities. A more fundamental question is whether such an ambition is realisable within the context of a capitalist economy. Even so, despite the ambiguities and uncertainties surrounding it, ‘levelling up’’ is undoubtedly a politically important message, directed at those voters, newly converted to the Conservative vision and who caused the former ‘red wall’ of Labour support partially to crumble. Some of these constituencies had not returned a Conservative MP for decades, others had never before returned a Conservative to Parliament.


Hudson, R. (2022). ‘Levelling up’ in post-Brexit United Kingdom: Economic realism or political opportunism?. Local Economy, 37(1-2), 50-65.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jun 6, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Jul 22, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jul 22, 2022
Journal Local Economy: The Journal of the Local Economy Policy Unit
Print ISSN 0269-0942
Electronic ISSN 1470-9325
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 37
Issue 1-2
Pages 50-65


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This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (

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