Brexit represents the last gasp of the British empire, argue Sally Tomlinson (Goldsmiths, University of London) and Danny Dorling (University of Oxford). The men who have led it cannot accept that the colonial era, and the exploited wealth that came with it, is over.

Cover grgAll imperial countries and their leaders have problems when their empires disappear, and they no longer have the forced tribute or inequitable trade deals they have depended on. Even when previously colonised people come to work for their former masters and build up the ‘mother country’, they may find a distinct lack of hospitality and even face deportation in their old age. So, as the sad tragedy known as Brexit moves into its assumed final stages, it is time to revisit the British Empire and its ending – Brexit being perhaps the last gasp of this empire.

Brexit is a gasp of rancour which seems to have brought to the surface much resentment, hatred, and ill-informed debate. Even Theresa May could not possibly have envisaged a situation where, faced with headlines such as “Officials warn of putrefying piles of waste after no-deal Brexit”, and the current UKIP leader writing to the Queen telling her she had committed treason by signing the Maastricht Treaty, she (May, not yet the Queen) is forced to return to the EU in late February, to try to renegotiate that infamous withdrawal treaty that in January Parliament had rejected and the EU had said it would not renegotiate.                                                                          

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