Losing the peace: Euroscepticism and the foundations of contemporary English nationalism

Ben Wellings*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    58 Citations (Scopus)


    Political resistance to European integration in the UK laid important ideological foundations for contemporary English nationalism. The politics surrounding accession to the European Economic Community (EEC) was such that it signalled that accession was a matter of supreme national importance and, via the device of a referendum, it led to the fusing of parliamentary and popular sovereignty. The unfolding of the Thatcherite project in Britain added an individualistic - and eventually an anti-European - dimension to this nascent English nationalism. Resistance to the deepening political and monetary integration of Europe, coupled with the effects of devolution in the UK, led to the emergence of a populist English nationalism, by now fundamentally shaped by opposition to European integration, albeit a nationalism that merged the defence of British and English sovereignty. Underpinning these three developments was a popular version of the past that saw 'Europe' as the ultimate institutional expression of British decline. Thus Euroscepeticism generated the ideology of contemporary English nationalism by legitimising the defence of parliamentary sovereignty through the invocation of popular sovereignty underpinned by reference to the past.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)488-505
    Number of pages18
    JournalNations and Nationalism
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


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