Brexit and food prices: the legacy of the Hungry Forties

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Cross-posted from History & Policy

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Plenty of attention is being paid to the political and constitutional effects of Brexit, but what will its economic impact be on life’s most basic commodities? How did food prices inform the debate in the weeks and months leading up to the referendum, and how have they informed debate in the past? How have the spectres of want and hunger been invoked over the last century and a half in political contexts, and are we paying them enough attention now?

Debating these questions will be five historians and policy makers with combined expertise covering the period since the 1840s, the “Hungry Forties,” which live in political memory as the UK’s last serious sustained period of food poverty. The discussion is aimed at policy makers and practitioners working in the area of food poverty and food security, and aims to show how lessons from the past can inform decision-making today.

This roundtable, co-sponsored by the Economic History Society, will consist of four papers delivered by experts. There will be ample time for questions and discussion following each paper, and at the close of the afternoon.

CHAIR/COMMENTATOR: Professor Jim Tomlinson (Glasgow)

PANELISTS (all paper titles tbc)

Professor Anthony Howe (East Anglia) – The Hungry Forties and the Rise of Free Trade England

Dr Sarah Richardson (Warwick) – The Legacy of the Hungry Forties (Late 19th-early 20th century)

Lindsay Aqui (Queen Mary) – The Hungry Forties and the 1975 Referendum

Geoff Tansey (Curator, Food Systems Academy; Chair, Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty) – Food Prices and Brexit

The Global Economics and History Forum is run by Dr Marc-William Palen (Exeter), Dr David Thackeray (Exeter) and Dr Andrew Dilley (Aberdeen). The forum aims to bring together academics, business groups, policy makers and the public interested in how understandings of historical trade relations can inform current policy debates.

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