An unexpected effect of the Covid crisis has been to reinforce the argument, now put by former Tory leader William Hague, that nation states remain the main focus of power regardless of 'globalisation'. (In the case of the UK this argument runs into the logical problem of making a case for Scottish and Welsh independence by reference to the power of devolved administrations.)

If by 'globalisation' we mean simply multinational corporations, together with such practices as 'just in time' supply and 'outsourcing' to low wage economies, the nation state argument looks convincing. But the other dimension of global issues ranging from environment to migration to drug resistant disease to security and keeping conflicts limited in scope, remains with us. People are only too keen to start travelling again. Indeed, the sheer scale of government spending to deal with the pandemic and invest for the future carries the risk of a 'Roaring Twenties' boom followed by (say) global inflation or debt down the line.

The very populism which supports the nation state argument also feeds the polarisation of politics which Hague himself points out is fraying national identities. Hague's practical proposals to support British identity are all worthy, but by their nature would lead (if successful) to Britain contributing to solution of global problems rather than creating a peculiar British identity. Hague's warning that the 'skyscraper' of nation state power is being built on crumbling bedrock is likely to prove only too prescient.

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