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Brexit, the tides and Canute: the fracturing politics of the British state

Jennings, Will and Lodge, Martin ORCID: 0000-0002-4273-6118 (2018) Brexit, the tides and Canute: the fracturing politics of the British state. Journal of European Public Policy, 26 (5). pp. 772-789. ISSN 1350-1763

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Identification Number: 10.1080/13501763.2018.1478876


The result and aftermath of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union has generated considerable attention, not just among observers of British politics. Even if some of wider context that shaped the referendum is far from unique to the UK, the road to Brexit is a product of distinct pathologies of the British state and politics that will introduce its own distinctive ways of doing policy and politics: With a state already under strain, a politics that is increasingly divided, and its people(s) discontented, the challenges confronting Britain’s ways of governing are substantial. This essay considers three analytical lenses, or ‘mega-trends’, through which to view the decision of the Cameron government to call the referendum: (1) the electoral politics perspective that focuses on the populist-nationalist turn and fragmentation of the British party system, (2) the dominant policy paradigm perspective that points to a silent crisis of the neoliberal policy consensus that had governed Britain since the 1970s, and (3) the referendum as a side-effect of both depoliticisation and the politics of the regulatory state. Based on these perspectives, we reflect on the potential implications of Brexit for the future of the British state and liberal democracy.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 Taylor & Francis
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
Date Deposited: 18 May 2018 11:14
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:27

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