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Brexit and the English

Brexit & the English

Is Brexit a deliberate message from a significant majority of non-metropolitan English people to the British Government to say "you have forgotten us"?

The Scots and Northern Irish voted against Brexit. The Welsh marginally in favour of Brexit and every "region" of England in favour of Brexit by an average margin of 11%, which is a lot. London voted against Brexit by a large margin, but London sees itself as British rather than English.

The graphic is from the BBC setting out the percentage analysis of the vote across the UK (without mentioning "England" once).


Brexit is arguably a consequence of the UK's constitutional arrangements not being fit for purpose. Every UK nation aside from England has a government (in addition to the UK Government) except England. As Prof Daniel Wincott says: "English identity remains politically volatile and lacks institutional expression". Without an acknowledgement of the fact that it's OK to be English and that England needs a parliament or government on the same terms as the other nations of the UK, things like Brexit will happen.

Fintan O'Toole wrote in the Irish Times (whilst discussing Anthony Barnett's book "The Lure of Greatness") that "Unable to exit Britain, the English did the next best thing and told the EU to ‘f**k off'...". Perhaps if the English had their own government within a federal UK then Brexit would never have happened, but that without such an arrangement, and in the light of David Cameron's decision to call an EU Referendum, it was pretty much inevitable.

So is Brexit as an inevitable consequence of the need for UK constitutional reform: i.e. the creation of a federal UK? It's presumably not the sort of reform that could happen from within the EU either.

A corollary to this is the need for an evolution and detoxification of English identity in the context of a diverse English population. Daniel Wincott again: "Treating it (Englishness) as an inherently problematic and distasteful identity is likely only to exacerbate English political discontent."


Posted Wednesday, August 1st, 2018 by English Identity

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