by James Meek
23 Feb 2021
In Dreams of Leaving and Remaining, award winning journalist Meek explores a nation uneasy with itself. In the decades since the twilight of empire, Britain has struggled to find its place, and identity, in the world. This has come to the point of crisis since the 2008 financial crash.
Meek meets the farmers and fishermen who wish Britain to turn its back on the world and restore its former glory, and are willing to lose the very support that their industry depends on. He reports on a Cadbury's factory that is to be shut down and moved to Poland in the name of free market economics, exploring the impact on the local community left behind. He charts how the NHS is coping with the twin burdens of austerity and an ageing population.
Through his journey he asks what we can recover from the debris of an old nation as we head towards new horizons, and what we must leave behind. There are no easy answers, and what he creates instead is a masterly portrait of an anxious, troubled nation. Instead, he demands that we reconsider the power of the stories that we tell ourselves about who we are, a nation's alienated from itself.