From Brexit to the break-up of Britain?
From Brexit to the break-up of Britain?

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Week 4 From European Union to Disunited Kingdom?


It is possible to read the maps which you explored in Week 1 through the lens of the UK’s constitutional fix, and the uneasy ways in which England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are brought together in a single governmental territory. Indeed, discussion of the break-up of Britain is usually approached through a consideration of the challenge presented by the rise of a range of nationalisms in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and – more recently – England. As the maps presented in Week 1 demonstrate, some of those tensions are apparent in the voting patterns of the referendum, but the messages are by no means clear-cut.

The course this week focuses on some of the issues that arise from the referendum and the messages of Brexit for Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, in each of which (although in different ways) debates around the nature of the nation with which people identify are of fundamental importance.

By the end of this week you will be able to:

  • understand how the UK is constituted as a state, and how this has been affected by the referendum vote and the move towards Brexit
  • understand the extent to which the votes reflected the devolution process in each of the UK’s component parts
  • assess the role of nationalism and national identity in the context of the nations and territories that make up the UK, particularly with respect to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • reflect on and assess the significance of overlapping forms of identity
  • use survey data (from British Election Study and elsewhere) confidently.

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