A succinct, expert guide to how we got to Brexit
After all the debates, manoeuvrings, recriminations and exaltations, Brexit is upon us. But, as Kevin O'Rourke writes, Brexit did not emerge out of nowhere: it is the culmination of events that have been under way for decades and have historical roots stretching back well beyond that. Brexit has a history.
O'Rourke, one of the leading economic historians of his generation, explains not only how British attitudes to Europe have evolved, but also how the EU's history explains why it operates as it does today - and how that history has shaped the ways in which it has responded to Brexit. Why are the economics, the politics and the history so tightly woven together? Crucially, he also explains why the question of the Irish border is not just one of customs and trade, but for the EU goes to the heart of what it is about. The way in which British, Irish and European histories continue to interact with each other will shape the future of Brexit - and of the continent.
Calm and lucid, A Short History of Brexit rises above the usual fray of discussions to provide fresh perspectives and understanding of the most momentous political and economic change in Britain and the EU for decades.
Valuable on the backstory is Kevin O'Rourke's A Short History of Brexit (Pelican). As an Irish historian who divides his time between a French village and All Souls College, Oxford, O'Rourke is a quintessential Remainer; but he's not blind to the EU's supranational ambitions.
He recounts the history of British involvement with Europe over the last 60 years with unique concision and clarity. He searches for the motivations behind the Brexit vote, parsing arguments that it was the inevitable result of structural economic factors, that it stemmed from a misplaced backlash against rising inequality, or that it was just a fluke brought about by political miscalculation and opportunism. Ever the professor, O'Rourke hints that all these views contain some truth.
In order to understand the present, we need to turn to the past. Here, Kevin O'Rourke, one of the leading economic historians of his generation, explains Brexit: the culmination of events that have been unfolding for decades, with its historical roots stretching back well beyond that.