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“Brexit means Brexit” or, as Lewis Carroll famously wrote “words mean what I choose them to mean”. Even after her speech on Brexit, described by one commentator as “vague, incorrect, misleading, hypocritical or fantasist”, we are no further forward in understanding how it will work in practice. However, where there is some agreement is that the vote was less about the European Union and more an expression of popular discontent with the precarious conditions in which large numbers of people, described by Theresa May as “just about managing”, now live. This lecture will reflect on the meaning of precariousness and, especially, its impact on health in Britain and Europe today, and the political consequences of failing to tackle this problem, especially the growth of right-wing populism. It will conclude by looking at prospects for the future, showing how leaving the European Union will make things very much worse for those on the margin in the UK, and asking whether our weakened democratic structures are capable of developing an effective response.

The Litchfield Lecturerships are awarded through the Medical Sciences Division.  We appoint one or more distinguished persons to deliver a Litchfield Lecture in Oxford each year.  This is the first Litchfield Lecture of 2017.

About Martin McKee:

Martin McKee qualified in medicine in Belfast,Northern Ireland, with subsequent training in internal medicine and public health. He is Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where he founded the European Centre on Health of Societies in Transition (ECOHOST), a WHO Collaborating Centre. He is also research director of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and Past President of the European Public Health Association. He has published over 960 academic papers and 44 books and his contributions to European health policy have been recognised by, among others, election to the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and the US National Academy of Medicine, by the award of honorary doctorates from Hungary, The Netherlands, and Sweden and visiting professorships at universities in Europe and Asia, the 2003 Andrija Stampar medal for contributions to European public health, in 2014 the Alwyn Smith Prize for outstanding contributions to the health of the population, and in 2015 the Donabedian International Award for contributions to quality of care. In 2005 was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). He has an active following on Twitter as @martinmckee