Brexit, nationalism and disintegration in the European Union and the United Kingdom

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Brexit calls us to account for nationalist politics as an independent variable in the historic construction and disintegration of the European Union. By examining the nationalist politics animating the campaigns to leave the European Union throughout the United Kingdom and the politics of keeping the UK united as the ‘games’ of the Brexit negotiations played out, this article argues for the centrality of nationalism in any further understandings of the inter-related process and politics of Brexit and European disintegration. Moreover, the Brexit referendum opened up contestation between executive, parliamentary, national and popular sovereignties in the differing nations of the United Kingdom and had a noticeable effect on British, as well as European, disintegration. Such inter-related drivers of disintegration must alert scholars to treat member-states as internally variegated and driven by imperatives to maintain state sovereignty in the face of challenges from sub-state, EU and global levels. European integration generates nationalism and creates polity contestation within the member-state as well as against the EU.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Contemporary European Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2020


  • Brexit
  • english nationalism
  • European disintegration
  • European integration
  • European Union
  • nationalism
  • United Kingdom

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