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.
The themes of England Alone as set out by Stephen Haseler are:
The Brexit referendum result represents the end product of a crisis of English identity and confidence that has been building for over a century as the UK lost its role as a world empire.
The Brexiteers live in a fantasy-land about our negotiating position and power in relation to the EU, and about the viability of a new ‘global role’. They have consistently overestimated the importance of the UK in the new global order.
Brexit – the final result of a century of this delusion of grandeur – will, as we leave the world’s largest Single Market, leave us much poorer. And, as separatism grows in Scotland and Northern Ireland, it will also de-stabilise the Westminster state itself, including the monarchy, as the UK breaks up.
So devastating was the EU referendum result that the existing Parliament, where there is an anti-Brexit majority, should, as an act of real as opposed to phoney patriotism, re-align the parties and reverse Brexit in order to stay in the EU. Behind these four themes are four critical issues that will be examined by the panel: