Financial crisis

One damned thing after another: Britain’s crisis-ridden century so far

Asked about the greatest challenges he faced as prime minister, Harold Macmillan is said to have replied: ‘Events, dear boy, events.’ The first quarter of this century has seen no shortage of events that have blown prime ministers off course. There was Tony Blair by 9/11 and the resulting war in Iraq; Gordon Brown by the financial crisis of 2007-8; David Cameron and Theresa May by Brexit; and Boris Johnson by Covid. With the exception of May, none of these people had any inkling, on taking office, of the bolts from the blue that would ultimately define their premierships. The idea behind George Osborne’s austerity cuts, that ‘we were all