Toxic Masculinity: Militarism, Deal-Making and the Performance of Brexit

  • Columba Achilleos-Sarll
  • Benjamin MartillEmail author
Part of the Gender and Politics book series (GAP)


This chapter argues that the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union (EU) and the subsequent Brexit process have been dominated by discourses of toxic masculinity, manifesting in two distinct ways: first through the deployment of language that was associated with deal-making and, second through the deployment of language associated with militarism. Drawing on a combination of critical feminist theory, documentary analysis and elite, semi-structured interviews with individuals close to the process, this chapter demonstrates the extent to which Brexit has been dominated by discourses of militarism, which highlighted Britain’s assumed global role in the world emphasising strength, security and global power, and deal-making discourses which have equated the negotiations to a business transaction, positioning Anglo-European negotiations in conflictual terms. We conclude with four potential (gendered) consequences of this discourse.



We would like to thank Moira Dustin for detailed comments on the manuscript and Daniel Payne at the LSE Archives for his assistance in tracking down material from the referendum campaign(s). We would also like to thank participants of the Feminist and Queer Perspectives on Brexit Workshop at Sussex University for their very helpful comments on an earlier draft.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Politics and International StudiesUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  2. 2.London School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK

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