Following the Brexit vote, this book offers a timely historical assessment of the different ways that Britain's economic future has been imagined and how British ideas have influenced global debates about market relationships over the past two centuries. The 2016 EU referendum hinged to a substantial degree on how competing visions of the UK should engage with foreign markets, which in turn were shaped by competing understandings of Britain's economic past. The book considers the following inter-related questions: - What roles does economic imagination play in shaping people's behaviour and how far can insights from behavioural economics be applied to historical issues of market selection? - How useful is the concept of the `official mind' for explaining the development of market relationships? - What has been the relationship between expanding communications and the development of markets? - How and why have certain regions or groupings (e.g. the Commonwealth) been `unimagined'- losing their status as promising markets for the future?
Nobody doubts that politicians ought to fulfil their promises - what people cannot agree about is what this means in practice. The purpose of this book is to explore this issue through a series of case studies. It shows how the British model of politics has changed since the early twentieth century when electioneering was based on the articulation of principles which, it was expected, might well be adapted once the party or politician that promoted them took office. Thereafter manifestos became increasingly central to electoral politics and to the practice of governing, and this has been especially the case since 1945. Parties were now expected to outline in detail what they would do in office and explain how the policies would be paid for. Brexit has complicated this process, with the `will of the people' as supposedly expressed in the 2016 referendum result clashing with the conventional role of the election manifesto as offering a mandate for action.