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The road to BrexitA cultural perspective on British attitudes to Europe$
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Ina Habermann

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526145086

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526145093

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Introduction: Understanding the past, facing the future

Introduction: Understanding the past, facing the future

(p.1) Introduction: Understanding the past, facing the future
The road to Brexit

Ina Habermann

Manchester University Press

Brexit brings out the worst in people. The interminable fight over what Brexit actually means, beyond (former) Prime Minister May’s mesmerising tautology, has produced, and revealed, multiple faultlines in an increasingly dis-United Kingdom, on the level of nations, regions, political parties and social classes, down to the most intimate levels of families, friends and relationships. To a certain extent, this was caused by the stark binarism of the choice that the British people were given – yes or no, in or out. Woefully inadequate to the complexity of the situation, such binarisms erase all subtlety and are thus guaranteed to make people act more narrow-mindedly than they would under normal circumstances, to become partisan, even to risk re-awakening the ghosts of violent Irish sectarianism. While Brexit was sold to the British people as a way out of an impasse, several years into the process, it has become glaringly obvious that this move in itself will solve neither economic and social problems, nor those related to an English identity crisis. This collection of essays seeks to contribute to the Brexit debate, not being concerned, however, with the day-to-day political process and the technical difficulties of ‘getting Brexit done’, as Boris Johnson liked to put it. Rather, we are interested in the origins, the logic behind and the longer-term consequences of the developments that culminated on 23 June 2016, when a majority of British people voted to leave the European Union. In other words, we seek to help trace the road to Brexit....

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