The revolt of the country: Brexit, history, and English nationhood

by Helen Thompson

For a country said to be obsessed with its past, Britain has a politics in which there is often little understanding of the legacy of history. Having long looked politically insignificant, the idea of English nationhood has resurfaced in the past few years -- not least in relation to Brexit. Helen Thompson argues that Englishness has been such a potent force in the debate over Brexit because it builds on a long history of Country resistance to a cosmopolitan Court, which dates back to the Norman Conquest. “Take back control” was such a powerful message precisely because English identity has so often been premised on that very political imperative.