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Understanding the past, facing the future
Ina Habermann
in The road to Brexit
Brexit in historical perspective
Robert Holland

This chapter charts antecedents for Brexit in British history. Key to the discussion is a recurring nativist reaction to European engagements. A strategic bias towards the periphery resulted. In contrast, the United Kingdom’s occasional attempts to be a core continental power often foundered. Purist notions of insular sovereignty and ‘victory’ in two world wars hampered a precise appreciation of Britain’s independent leverage. These dilemmas intensified amidst integrationist currents in Europe after circa 1950, making previous approaches obsolete. Although a workable balance was constructed after the UK’s adhesion to the European Community in 1973, from the mid-1990s, an intra-Tory civil war tipped antithetical visions of British interests against each other, culminating in the 2016 referendum. The struggle over Brexit is profoundly cultural, raising issues beyond definitive resolution.

in The road to Brexit
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A cultural perspective on British attitudes to Europe

This timely collection explores British attitudes to continental Europe that explain the Brexit decision. Analysing British discourses of Europe and the impact of British Euroscepticism, the book argues that Britain’s exit from the European Union reflects a more general cultural rejection of continental Europe: Britain is in denial about the strength of its ties to Europe and needs to face Europe if it is to face the future. The volume brings together literary and cultural studies, history, and political science in an integrated analysis of views and practices that shape cultural memory and the cultural imaginary. Part I, ‘Britain and Europe: political entanglements’, traces the historical and political relationship between Britain and Europe and the place of Europe in recent British political debates while Part II, ‘British discourses of Europe in literature and film’, is devoted to representative case studies of films as well as popular Eurosceptic and historical fiction. Part III, ‘Negotiating borders in British travel writing and memoir’, engages with border mindedness and the English Channel as a contact zone, also including a Gibraltarian point of view. Given the crucial importance of literature in British discourses of national identity, the book calls for, and embarks on, a Euro-British literary studies that highlights the nature and depth of the British-European entanglement.

Hopes and fears for a united Europe in Britain aft er the Second World War
Lara Feigel
Alisa Miller

This chapter considers how British writers and politicians articulated the concept of European unity throughout the twentieth century. It traces the development of a political rhetoric that presented British and continental cultures as separate entities. It also explores how influential writers pushed back against this idea, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. The chapter draws parallels between these historical discussions and the current Brexit crisis, finally speaking to how the pro-integration writing of the post-war period might inform attempts to maintain and expand cultural – if not political – connections between Britain and Europe.

in The road to Brexit
Michelle Egan

This chapter focuses on the Single Market, one of the key factors transforming the economic relationship between Britain and its European neighbors for the past 45 years. There are widespread concerns about the impact of Brexit on economic growth, current and future business strategies, and investment in the Single Market. The impact of regulatory entanglements across myriad policy areas is now coming under increased scrutiny, as the reality of an integrated economy with supply chains that highlight this trade and investment relationship is viewed through the lens of British political economy. Yet Brexit also provides a unique opportunity to scrutinize the impact of these entanglements on future European economic integration, because the effects may be felt in material or ideational terms, both for Britain as a third country, and for others that are highly integrated across different sectors and economies, and that depend on the market liberalization approach pushed by Britain. Rather than see the Single Market solely in terms of opportunity costs or benefits for Britain, it is worth considering the impact on other territories and markets.

in The European Union after Brexit
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‘Brexit’, economic citizenship, and the political perils of neoliberalism
Mark I. Vail

This chapter analyzes the social and economic drivers of Brexit and their relationship to the evolution of Tory-centered Euroscepticism and economic policy strategy. It argues that Brexit is best understood as a failure of social and economic community exacerbated by a neoliberal creed that justified both neglect of and attacks on the British social contract. It suggests that the combination of hardening Tory Euroscepticism, budgetary austerity, and voters’ growing anxiety over immigration led to both hostility to the EU and a related quest to regain a sense of economic community defined along increasingly ethnonationalistic lines. The chapter supports this argument with both qualitative evidence detailing the evolution of the Conservative Party’s stances on the EU and national and regional public opinion data. The chapter concludes that the British case offers a cautionary tale for both other European states and the EU about the political risks of economic austerity and neoliberal policies that undermine the economic bases of political consent.

in The European Union after Brexit
Hard or soft?
Vivien Schmidt

The future of the EU is in question, and not just because of Brexit, which is just one of the many crises that has hit the EU in recent years, including the Eurozone, refugee, and security crises. But how Brexit occurs may have a significant impact on future European integration, just as the future of EU integration will have an impact on UK engagement with the EU. This chapter begins with the UK’s reasons for exit and its history of opting out of EU policies before considering the many crises challenging the EU, including Brexit. It then discusses the current already highly differentiated state of the EU, followed by the likely future of even greater differentiation. The chapter argues that only by conceiving of the future EU as consisting of a ‘soft’ rather than hard core with different clusters of members in overlapping policy communities is the UK likely to be able continue to have a productive relationship with the EU through some of its various policy communities, or is the EU itself most likely to move forward in a positive direction.

in The European Union after Brexit
Obstacles to European integration
Kristin Makszin

While Brexit represents an opportunity for reimagining EU integration, this chapter argues that enduring divisions within the EU and the actions of emboldened leaders from Eastern member states represent major obstacles to deeper integration in the post-Brexit EU. Efforts to address the economic rift between the EU core and peripheries are thwarted by a shift towards a less redistributive cohesion policy and the persistence of dependent models of capitalism in the East. Economic inequality within the EU has challenged integration since its founding, but the structural nature of this inequality suggests that the divisions will persist with potentially greater political consequences in the form of rising anti-EU sentiment and populism in the East. The ability and will to intervene in cases of erosion of rule of law, as in the case of Hungary since 2010 and Poland since 2015, is lacking and cooperation between Eastern member states inhibits further intervention in member states exhibiting democratic backsliding. Divisions in the EU are not new, but the EU’s toolkit for addressing them appears vastly and increasingly insufficient.

in The European Union after Brexit
A pity to lose the contribution?
Jessica Guth

This chapter considers what the EU legal order might lose following Brexit. It begins by setting out the position of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and establishing an understanding of the EU legal order. It outlines a number of key contributions made by the UK to that legal order focusing in particular on the CJEU and more specifically the Court of Justice and its jurisprudence. It argues that the contributions made by cases referred by or involving the UK, the common law more generally and individuals are significant but not unique. The chapter tentatively concludes that the impact of Brexit on the EU legal order is not likely to be all that dramatic.

in The European Union after Brexit
Willem Maas

The Brexit referendum has uncovered and stimulated a growing attachment to the European Union and the European project more generally, both in the UK and in the rest of the EU. The Brexit process raises uncertainties, challenges, and opportunities. While the uncertainties will fade over time, challenges such as how to ensure no border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, functional pressures for basing access to citizenship rights on residence rather than nationality, and ongoing disagreements between EU member states about free movement rules and preferential access to social benefits, will persist. In terms of opportunities, Brexit could allow new coalitions of member states to work toward greater harmonization of social policies (more ‘social Europe’ is supported by a strong majority of Europeans) and the process also allows member state governments and EU institutions to clarify the relationship between member state and EU citizenship, including perhaps greater coordination of naturalization policies. Recalling the centrality of individual rights and shared citizenship to the European project may allow European leaders to rediscover that shared rights are the only effective way of fostering the sense of a common destiny that is necessary for any political project to have legitimacy.

in The European Union after Brexit