Shadows of Empire: The Anglosphere in British Politics

Front Cover
John Wiley & Sons, May 4, 2018 - Political Science - 224 pages
The idea of an alliance between Britain and its old Commonwealth colonies has recently made a remarkable comeback in the context of Brexit. Based on belief in a special bond between the English-speaking peoples of the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, it has been dubbed the 'Anglosphere' by supporters and 'Empire 2.0' by critics.

In this book, leading commentators Michael Kenny and Nick Pearce trace the historical origins of this idea back to the shadow cast by the British Empire in the late Victorian era. They show how leading British political figures, from Churchill to Thatcher, consistently reworked it and how it was revived by a group of right-wing politicians, historians and pamphleteers to support the case for Brexit. They argue that, while the contemporary idea of the Anglosphere as an alternative to European Union membership is seriously flawed, it nonetheless represents an enduring account of Britain’s role in the world that runs through the heart of political life over the last century.

Shadows of Empire will be essential reading for everyone interested in British politics and post-Brexit foreign policy.


The Origins of the Anglosphere
After Empire The Rise of the EnglishSpeaking Peoples
A Parting of the Ways Britain and the Commonwealth in the PostWar
The Powellite Interlude Sovereignty Decline and the Return
The Anglosphere in the Late Twentieth Century Retreat
The Eurosceptic Anglosphere Emerges
Brexit The Anglosphere Triumphant?

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About the author (2018)

Mike Kenny is Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge

Nick Pearce is Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath

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