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02 January 2024

Campaigners 'harnessed English nationalism' in Brexit vote

A resurgence of English nationalism was a driving force behind the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, an article authored by a King’s scholar has concluded.


Dissatisfaction with England’s place in the UK, anxieties around a diminishing sense of English national identity, and objections to immigration from the EU fomented a revival in English nationalism after 2010 that was ultimately harnessed by ‘Leave’ campaigners.

And it is the same ascendant sense of English nationalism, the article argues, that has caused increased division among nations of the UK and may ultimately lead to its break-up as a political union.

The article, Finding Oneself after a Messy Divorce: has Brexit Strengthened British Identity?, was authored by Nicholas Scott, a PhD candidate in the Department of European and International Studies at King’s.

Nicholas said: “…The outcome of the Brexit referendum should be understood as an exercise of English nationalism. Although British identity was evoked by both the Leave and Remain sides of the referendum debate, it is evident that the Leave side had tapped into a vein of resurgent English nationalism that has underpinned British identity.”

You can read the full article, published in St Anthony’s International Review, at the link here. A full PDF copy of the article is also available by contacting Nicholas at: 

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And you can hear more about Nicholas’s PhD research on the Call My Supervisor! podcast.

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Nicholas Scott

PhD candidate