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English Nationalism and Euroscepticism

Losing the Peace


Ben Wellings

This book seeks out the origins of contemporary English nationalism. Whilst much academic and political attention has been given to England’s place within the United Kingdom since devolution, the author argues that recent English nationalism actually derives from Britain’s troubled relationship with European integration. Drawing on political evidence from the former Empire, the debates surrounding EEC accession and the United Kingdom’s ongoing membership in the European Union, the author identifies the foundations of contemporary English nationalism. In doing so, he adds an important corrective to the debate about nationalism in England, pulling our gaze out from the United Kingdom itself and onto a wider field. Far from being ‘absent’, English nationalism as we know it today has been driven by resistance to European integration since the end of Empire in the 1960s.


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Acknowledgements vii Introduction 1 Chapter 1 The Idea of England 11 Englishness as Absence 12 Nationalism as the Legitimisation of Sovereignty 19 England, Britain and Empire 27 England and Sovereignty 36 Conclusion 41 Chapter 2 The Idea of Europe 43 War, Nationalism and European Unity 44 ‘Post-war’ 47 Legitimising the European Union 58 The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome 67 Conclusion 78 Chapter 3 European Integration and the Demise of Britishness 79 Empire, Commonwealth and Britain 80 Britain, Commonwealth and the EEC 90 England, Sovereignty and Empire 101 Conclusion 115 vi Chapter 4 Accession and the 1975 Referendum 117 Restoring Greatness 118 Defending Sovereignty 130 Instrumental Europeans 135 Conclusion 146 Chapter 5 Thatcherism and English Nationalism 149 Britain and Europe 150 Thatcherism as English Nationalism 155 Thatcherism and European History 159 England’s Nationalism 163 Unity and Disunity 167 Conclusion 178 Chapter 6 Contemporary English Nationalism 181 England Arise? 182 Rump Britain 191 Ostentatious Englishness 198 Populism and Euroscepticism 212 Conclusion 223 Chapter 7 Conclusion 225 Bibliography 237 Archival Sources 237 Newspapers and Periodicals 240 Secondary Sources 241 Indexes 255

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