The study of the United Kingdom, now it has notified the European Union that it will be leaving the Union in March 2019, presents a unique social science opportunity to analyse a society undergoing fundamental change. Hitherto France has been seen as the European country that punctuated periods of stability with violent change. But now the United Kingdom is renouncing the gradualism, which has always been its watchword, for a way forward that seems likely to trigger an interlocking set of crises. Following on from the late Professor Haseler’s final, timely and prescient book, England Alone, the project will study:
The policy issues will be modelled on different scenarios. For example: Britain could pursue the option of a free trade entrepot with low labour costs, US standards on welfare, and a minimal state. Or, it could re-define its relationship with its neighbouring regional bloc, Europe, perhaps at the expense of its current global ambitions. All scenarios will recognize that Europe, unencumbered by the UK, will follow its own developmental logic at a rapid pace. Thus, the study will assume a world that is moving away from the UK as much as the UK going it alone.
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Sam Whimster is Associate Director and Head of the UK Futures Programme at the Global Policy Institute. Sam studied at the London School of Economics, where he received his PhD. He has taught at the University of Leipzig and held research fellowships at the universities of Heidelberg, Tuebingen and Munich as well as most recently at the University of Bonn.
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Brexit represents an existential crisis for the British state and people. As Brexit Britain slips its moorings and moves away from the mainstream of European civilisation huge questions remain unanswered. What is Britain’s role in a dangerous world? And what plans are there to stabilise the British islands as separatism grows stronger and stronger in Scotland and Northern Ireland?
In his last book, completed shortly before his death, the late Professor Haseler develops a central theme of his earlier books that the country has ‘auditioned’ for this Brexit crisis over several decades during which its elites have failed to come to terms with Britain’s loss of empire and reduced status – and instead have conveniently blamed Europe for the country’s decline.
Haseler suggests that so profound is our sense of national decline that we now face a deep crisis of identity, indeed of ‘Englishness’ – of what it means to be English today. In his essay ‘The Making and Un-Making of Englishness’ he looks at how this identity was created, and how it is now dissolving. He further argues that we British need nothing less than a radical culture shift away from childish English nationalism and tabloid bombast. Alongside this cultural change we also need radical constitutional surgery to save the state from disintegration.
In the final essay he argues that Brexit is a dead end. That it will lead to ‘England Alone’ in a dangerous world. And that the time has come for an act of real – rather than phoney – patriotism and courage. Brexit needs to be reversed and Europe re-engaged.