This Time it's Different:Legitimacy and the Limits of Differentiation after Brexit


British political debate since the EU referendum has hinged on what type of Brexit to pursue: hard or soft. Yet, unlike in instances of treaty rejection, the EU made no counter offer to avoid a breakdown in relations that would follow the hardest of exits. This remarkable unity in not discounting the possibility of a hard Brexit demonstrates that UK withdrawal is very distinct from previous wrangles over EU reform. Drawing on the work of Kissinger, this article argues Brexit is a revolutionary act that denies the legitimacy of the EU order. Hence this process does not conform to other episodes of differentiation. When Westminster sought opt-outs, it did not reject the core principles of integration. By not seeking to oppose a hard Brexit, Brussels has forced the UK government to find a new legitimizing principle to govern EU-UK relations, transferring the burden of adjustment to London.

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Divisions: School of Social Sciences & Humanities
School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Aston Centre for Europe
School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Politics & International Relations
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Glencross, A. (2018), This Time it's Different: Legitimacy and the Limits of Differentiation after Brexit. The Political Quarterly, which has been published in final form at  This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Hard Brexit,legitimacy,Article 50,Kissinger,referendum,Political Science and International Relations
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Related URLs: https://onlinel ... 1467-923X.12525 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2018-09
Published Online Date: 2018-06-07
Accepted Date: 2018-05-12
Authors: Glencross, Andrew (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-8320-9181)



Version: Accepted Version

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