Thursday Feb 23, 2023

The United Kingdom’s Existential Crisis

There may be no better example of how domestic dysfunction can hobble global power than the United Kingdom in recent years. Constant political and economic turmoil has reinforced the sense that this once great power is in terminal decline. Brexit, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU in 2016, put the United Kingdom as a whole at odds with Scotland and Northern Ireland, where large majorities voted to stay in Europe. Although Brexit is clearly to blame for many of the United Kingdom’s recent problems, the forces undermining the country’s stability started taking shape long ago.

In a new piece for Foreign Affairs, Irish writer Fintan O’Toole argues that English nationalism, which “was previously buried under British and imperial identities,” is one of the driving forces pulling the United Kingdom apart. Today, the country is “unsure about not just its place in the international order but also whether it can continue to be regarded as a single place.”

We discuss how Brexit continues to haunt British politics, the future of the Scottish independence movement, and how national identity is formed and expressed.

You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at

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