European Empires in Conflict: The Brexit Years

Brenna Bhandar. 2018. Colonial lives of property: Law, land and racial regimes of ownership. Durham and London: Duke University Press. Danny Dorling and Sally Tomlinson. 2019. Rule Britannia: Brexit and the end of empire. London: Biteback Publishing. Eva Mackey. 2016. Unsettled expectations: Uncertainty, land and settler decolonization. Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.

Abstract

On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom (UK) Government notified the European Council (EC) of its intention to withdraw from the European Union (EU) legal order. On 31 January 2020, the UK entered a transition period, during which it remains bound to the EU Treaty Framework. This review essay examines the near three-year period of the UK’s attempted cessation from the EU (Brexit). It argues that what is most striking about the Brexit case is that it reveals the extent to which EU member states remain bound by ideologies and tropes developed during the era of European colonisation—even in their relationship with each other. The review essay draws upon Brenna Bhandar’s Colonial lives of property: Law, Land and racial regimes of ownership, Danny Dorling and Sally Tomlinson’s Rule Britannia: Brexit and the end of empire, and Eva Mackey’s Unsettled expectations: Uncertainty, land and settler decolonization to show how Brexit bears upon themes that have long preoccupied postcolonial scholars working in a variety of contexts and geographical locations. From the Brexit example, the review article highlights the persistence of colonial projects of (re)invention and the appropriative techniques and tropes that attend these and, above all, it highlights the necessity of decolonial violence.

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Tuitt, P. European Empires in Conflict: The Brexit Years. Law Critique 31, 209–227 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10978-020-09266-8

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Keywords

  • Article 50 TEU
  • Brexit
  • British Empire
  • Colonial/postcolonial/decolonial
  • European Union
  • Withdrawal Agreement