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Shadows of Empire: The Anglosphere in British Politics

Shadows of Empire: The Anglosphere in British Politics

Mike Kenny, Nick Pearce

ISBN: 978-1-509-51664-3

May 2018

224 pages


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The idea of a global alliance between Britain and its old commonwealth colonies has recently made a remarkable comeback in the context of Brexit. Based on the belief in a special bond between the English-speaking peoples of the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, it has been dubbed the ‘Anglosphere’ by its supporters and ‘Empire 2.0’ by its critics. Endorsed by many leading Brexiteers, it’s a vision that is being used to frame Britain’s post-Brexit foreign policy.
In this book, leading commentators Michael Kenny and Nick Pearce trace the historical origins of this idea back to the late Victorian era, when it was developed in the shadow cast by the British Empire. They show how it has been reworked, amended and reinvented by some of Britain’s leading politicians, from Churchill’s heroic account of the ‘English-speaking peoples’ to Margaret Thatcher’s endorsement of an ‘Atlantic Alliance’. They then show how it was revived by a small group of free market pundits, media moguls and maverick Conservative politicians to support the case for Brexit.
They argue that while the idea of an Anglosphere draws more upon imperial nostalgia than any sober assessment of the realities of Britain’s post-Brexit future, it nonetheless represents a politically powerful and enduring ideological account of Britain and its role in the world that runs through the heart of British political life over the last century. Their critical analysis of the contemporary relevance of the Anglosphere will be essential reading for everyone interested in British politics, international affairs, and the post-Brexit future.
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1
  • The Origins of the Anglosphere
  • Chapter 2
  • After Empire: The Rise of the “English-Speaking Peoples”
  • Chapter 3
  • A Parting of the Ways: Britain & the Commonwealth in the Post-War World
  • Chapter 4
  • The Powellite Interlude: Sovereignty, Decline and the Return to England 
  • Chapter 5
  • The Anglosphere in the Late Twentieth Century: Retreat and Thatcherite Reinvention
  • Chapter 6
  • The Eurosceptic Anglosphere Emerges
  • Chapter 7
  • Brexit: the Anglosphere Triumphant?
  • Conclusion