English nationalism, Brexit and the Anglosphere

Wider still and wider

By Ben Wellings

English nationalism, Brexit and the Anglosphere


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1773-1
  • Pages: 216
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £19.99
  • Published Date: May 2019
  • BIC Category: Nationalism, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Nationalism & Patriotism, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Comparative Politics, Humanities / British & Irish history, Society & social sciences / Comparative politics, Society & social sciences / Nationalism
  • Series: New Perspectives on the Right


This is the first book to examine the relationship between English nationalism, Brexit and 'the Anglosphere' - a politically-contested term used to denote English-speaking countries sharing cultural and historical roots with the UK.

In the aftermath of the UK's EU referendum some pointed to a 'revolt' of those 'left behind' by globalisation. Ben Wellings argues instead that Brexit was and is an elite project, firmly situated within the tradition of an expansive English nationalism. Far from being parochial 'Little Englanders', elite Brexiteers sought to replace the European Union with trade and security alliances between 'true friends' and 'traditional allies' in the Anglosphere. Brexit was thus reassuringly presented as a giant leap into the known. As the UK's future relationship with the rest of the world is negotiated, the need to understand this 'English moment' has never been more pressing.


'A thoughtful and subtle book that has not been outdated by the unpredictable twists and turns of events. Wellings identifies an interesting problem: that Brexit is both English and not English. Support for Brexit was strongest in England, but the expressed aims of the Brexit campaign, putting British sovereignty and "global Britain" at the forefront, tend to push England back out of the picture. Whatever the outcome of our present travails whether English nationalism finally emerges will remain important, and this book will help us to reflect on what is happening.'
Robert Tombs, Professor of Modern History, University of Cambridge, and author of The English and Their History

'Brexit has plunged the UK into its greatest peacetime crisis. In this incisive study Ben Wellings explores how an elite project built around Euroscepticism and the Anglosphere created a majority coalition for Leave by reshaping English nationalism. Essential reading for understanding why England voted for Brexit and what the future holds.'
Andrew Gamble, Professor of Politics, SPERI, University of Sheffield

'In this original and impressive book, Ben Wellings argues that Brexit can be understood as a three-level dilemma for this 'least parochial' of nationalisms: getting the UK out of the EU, maintaining the Union and reintegrating the UK into global markets. The case is made with intelligence and subtlety and Wellings establishes a new standard of interpretation for the politics of Englishness.'
Arthur Aughey, Emeritus Professor of Politics, Ulster University


1 Introduction: English nationalism, Euroscepticism and the Anglosphere
Part I: Discovering England
2 England's dilemmas: national questions in a global era
3 Locating England: national traditions and political dilemmas
Part II: Three pillars of the English Anglosphere
4 Gift to the world: England's shared exceptionalism
5 Greater Britain: England's wider categories of belonging
6 Great wars: England and the defence of British sovereignty
Part III: England's Brexit and the Anglosphere
7 Leap into the known: the Anglosphere, England and the Brexit referendum
8 Taking back control: global Britain and Brexit England
9 Conclusion: Brexit as English nationalism


Ben Wellings is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia

English nationalism, Brexit and the Anglosphere

By Ben Wellings

Paperback £19.99 / $29.95

Hardcover £80.00 / $120.00

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