Britain, Europe and National Identity: Self and Other in by J. Gibbins

By J. Gibbins

This learn styles nationwide identification over a few vital ancient milestones and brings the debates over Europe updated with an research of modern happenings together with the referendum on Scottish independence, the worldwide fiscal drawback and the present main issue in Syria.

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Unsurprisingly, at least from the Eurosceptic position, France is a dominant definer of British national identity. Colley, in her remarkable account of the forging of British national identity from 1707 to the early part of the nineteenth century, argues that Britishness was forged in the wider context of turbulent contact and protracted wars with France: “Britishness was superimposed over an array of internal differences in response to contact with the Other, and above all in response to conflict with the Other” (1992, p.

Although welcoming the debate, Crick regards the politicians’ desire to pinpoint the constituent elements of Britishness as both senseless, as Britishness means different things to different people, and unnecessary, because Britishness is not the glue that holds the country together (2007, 149–58). On Gordon Brown’s 2007 speech to the TUC, in which The Guardian recorded 34 uses of the expression Britishness, Crick mentions that “Gordon Brown really does seem to believe that the unity of the United Kingdom is in danger if there is not a strong and common sense of Britishness” (2007, p.

539] characterised by ‘Little Englanders’ [9 – p. 412] who hark back to past glories. British interests are positioned as wholly contingent on the interdependence between other European nations, and Britain must therefore rely on ‘friends and allies’ [1] and ‘partnership with our democratic neighbours’ [3]. To summarise, though Britain is conceived as a leading international actor, continued EEC membership is construed as being reflective of a sense of crisis: is continued membership the means to exercise Britain’s global and historically entrenched impact or is it more of an attempt to address Britain’s declining power?

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