Ben Wellings
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Greater Britain
England’s wider categories of belonging
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This chapter establishes why political and strategic ties to the English-speaking peoples resonate in English nationalism and why they can be presented as a reassuring, if perhaps less obviously viable, alternative to European integration. The years leading up to the Brexit referendum were also years of debates about Britain’s imperial past. The enduring political legacy of this historic development was that English nationalists could always – and had to – draw upon ‘wider categories of belonging’ than England itself to explain and justify England’s place in the world. In articulating England anew at the beginning of the twenty-first century, political actors drew heavily upon established ways of understanding Englishness that were not based on multiculturalism but that rested upon with notions of England’s wider categories of belonging contained in memories of empire and arguments about the Anglosphere in refashioning Britain’s place in the world.

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