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Governing England: English Identity and Institutions in a Changing United…

by Michael Kenny

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England is ruled directly from Westminster by institutions and parties that are both English and British. The non-recognition of England reflects a longstanding assumption of 'unionist statecraft' that to draw a distinction between what is English and what is British risks destabilising the union state. The book examines evidence that this conflation of England and Britain is growing harder to sustain, in light of increasing political divergence between the nations of the UK and the awakening of English national identity. These trends were reflected in the 2016 vote to leave the European Union, driven predominantly by English voters (outside London). Brexit was motivated in part by a desire to restore the primacy of the Westminster Parliament, but there are0countervailing pressures for England to gain its own representative institutions, and for devolution to England's cities and regions.0The book presents competing interpretations of the state of English nationhood, examining the views that little of significance has changed, that Englishness has been captured by populist nationalism, and that a more progressive, inclusive Englishness is struggling to emerge. We conclude that England's national consciousness remains fragmented due to deep cleavages in its political culture, and the absence of a reflective national conversation about England's identity and relationship with the0rest of the UK and the wider world. Brexit was a (largely) English revolt, tapping into unease about England's place within two intersecting Unions (British and European), but it is easier to identify what the nation spoke against than what it voted for.… (more)

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