Research Project Overview Nicholas Scott - English Identity

Few people would have predicted that the United Kingdom would vote to leave the European Union (EU) in June of 2016. At the time of writing, the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU is almost six years in the past.

In the wake of the referendum vote, academics, politicians, journalists, and political pundits pondered over why Britain voted to leave the EU; at the same time, the formal negotiation of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU was stuttering along, hampered by internal disagreements, partisan divides, external actors (such as EU leaders), and other foreseeable and unforeseeable obstacles.

Britain’s formal withdrawal from the EU was completed on January 31st, 2020. Although many issues from the divorce lay unresolved, Brexit, as promised, got done – and this research project is not concerned with rehashing the past. Rather, my research approaches the question of what constitutes European identity and whether Britons, particularly the English, consider themselves to be European despite the UK no longer being a member of the European Union. When people discuss Europe, what often comes to mind is the EU.

That being said, while the EU makes up a lot of Europe, it is not all of Europe. Similarly, when people talk of being ‘European’ or having a ‘European identity’, they often discuss these things in the context of the EU. This understanding of Europe and the EU as being one-in-the-same is referred to EUrope. In this light, being European and having a European identity are dependent on EU membership, otherwise understood as EUropeanness or EUropean identity.