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Governing EnglandEnglish Identity and Institutions in a Changing United Kingdom$
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Michael Kenny, Iain McLean, and Akash Paun

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266465

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266465.001.0001

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UKIP, Brexit and the Disruptive Political Potential of English National Identity

UKIP, Brexit and the Disruptive Political Potential of English National Identity

(p.159) 8 UKIP, Brexit and the Disruptive Political Potential of English National Identity
Governing England

Robert Ford

Maria Sobolewska

British Academy

The defining feature of English national identity for many decades was its absence in politics. This has changed with the mobilisation of a particular strain of English national identity. It was not the only factor influencing choices in the 2016 EU referendum, but it was an important one. All of the concerns that are most intensely expressed by English identifiers—opposition to immigration, social and cultural conservatism, political disaffection and support for separate English political institutions—were associated with higher support for Brexit. Brexit, however, is not the end of the story. The referendum provoked intense political mobilisation by the English identifiers, but the election of June 2017 has sparked a similarly intense reaction from the British identifiers, denying the pro-Brexit Government their majority. The two votes just a year apart have highlighted how deep the identity divides in England have become.

Keywords:   English national identity, Brexit, EU referendum, Immigration, political disaffection, social conservatism, cultural conservatism

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