"Oh, to Be in England/Now that Brexit’s There"

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Abstract

Brexit re-asserts England’s dominance over ‘Britain’, the ‘United Kingdom’, and the eccentric political accretion ridiculed by Tom Nairn as ‘Ukania’. ‘Brexitania’ is a volatile crucible for a social settlement, with profound implications for Britain, Europe, and – especially - Ireland. Since the referendum, a mythology of Empire has re-emerged as England’s primary political imaginary. Its historical task of distraction from constituting in law a modern ‘British Nation’ has been renewed. Such a feat of collective imagination is once again displaced by resort to ‘national’ over-definition against perceived inferior or dangerous Others, including Welsh, Scots, Irish – and ‘European’ – people and polities. The radically ambiguous ‘will of the people’, expressed at the referendum on leaving the EU, eclipses the will of some of the people expressed in ‘constitutional’ referendums on the Good Friday Agreement (1998) and Scottish Independence (2014). This article uses a postcolonial perspective to explore changing meanings of ‘unity’ and ‘union’, and their implications, among Brexit’s proliferating contradictions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThird Text
Early online date29 Nov 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Nov 2018

Keywords

  • Victor Merriman
  • austerity
  • brexit
  • colonialism
  • constitution
  • empire
  • England
  • Englishness
  • European union
  • good friday agreement
  • Great Britain
  • immigration
  • Ireland
  • Northern Ireland
  • race
  • racism
  • referendum
  • Scottish independence
  • sovereignty
  • United Kingdom

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