Going it Alone?:British Politics and the Choice of Political Union


This article explores the inter-related debates over Britain's relationship with the EU and that over the future of the UK. It argues that euroscepticism and Scottish independence are based on exceptionalist identities that now revolve around economic policy. Elite euroscepticism cleaves to a neoliberal vision of minimalist regulation, while advocates of Scottish independence claim Westminster's austerity policies make the British Union incompatible with social democracy. However, this presentation of the choice facing British voters ignores the serious contradictions that overhauling the current order entails. Both forms of exceptionalism fail to recognize the significant limitations of self-government outside and within the EU. If Conservatives can contain their neoliberal flirtation with EU withdrawal they are very well placed to prosper electorally. The dilemma of which union(s) to choose might thus constitute the prelude to the entrenchment of the economic and political order that gave rise to such contestation in the first place.

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