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Head of Zeus
How Britain Ends
How Britain Ends: English Nationalism and the Rebirth of Four Nations by Gavin Esler

'An eloquent, forensic examination of resurgent English nationalism as the force that has driven Brexit and may now break up the United Kingdom' Jonathan Coe

In the past, it was possible to live with delightful confusion: one could be English or British, Scottish or Irish, and a citizen/subject of the United Kingdom (or Great Britain). For years that state has been what Gavin Esler calls a 'secret federation', but without the explicit federal arrangements that allow Germany or the USA to survive.

Now the archaic state, which doesn't have a written constitution, is coming under terrible strain. The English revolt against Europe is also a revolt against the awkward squads of the Scottish and Irish, and most English conservatives would be happy to get rid of Northern Ireland and Scotland as the price of getting Brexit done. The pressures to declare Scottish independence and to push for a border poll that would unite Ireland may become irresistible.

Can England and Wales find a way of dealing with the state's new place in the world? What constitutional, federal arrangements might prevent the disintegration of the British state, which has survived in its present form for 400 years?

How Britain Ends is a book about history, but also about the strange, complicated identity of Britishness.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Current Affairs
04 Feb 2021 * 320pp * £14.99 * 9781800241053
'In the coming years, many people will be writing about the end of the UK. They'll all quote this wonderful and curiously moving book. I know I will'
James Hawes, author of The Shortest History of England
'A former BBC journalist, [Esler] has travelled round the UK as intensively as anyone, and he is deeply worried about what he sees as the collapse of the British idea and the emergence of English nationalism. As Esler sees it, the unruly, destructive force of English nationalism now threatens to break the United Kingdom, heralding, as his subtitle has it, the 'rebirth of four nations' ... The present government has no zest for genuine reinvention, because it refuses to recognise that there is anything much to worry about. And as Esler insists, recognition is the necessary first step to reform'
Ferdinand Mount, Financial Times
'Gavin Esler takes a sober, measured look at the forces threatening to tear apart the four nations'
Choice Magazine
'Packed with broad cultural and literary insight to go with hard-nosed political evaluation, Esler's book is about the United Kingdom, but addresses some awkward questions about England and the English with an open mind and a sympathetic ear'
'A fascinating book that draws on poetry, literature and on-the-ground reporting'
The Times
'Both timely and provocative'
Sunday Times
'His book is intelligent, interesting ... This is a good book and a valuable one'
'A consistently thought-provoking and well-argued book, and yet the more I read it, the more I wondered about English nationalism'
Books from Scotland
'A wonderful book which will be quoted in years to come, [Esler] takes us deep below decks, to watch the waters rushing unstoppably in ... As we enter uncharted waters, this splendid book is going to be an invaluable guide'
New European
'Eloquent ... A cool-headed contribution to this often emotional debate'
Sunday Business Post
'Witty, informed, smart – the best-written polemic I've read in some time'
Glasgow Herald
Gavin Esler
Gavin Esler
Gavin Esler is a journalist, television presenter and author. He was a main presenter of the BBC current affairs show Newsnight for 12 years until 2014. Since 2014 he has been a public speaker, a political commentator and journalist, and the Chancellor of the University of Kent.
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