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

A thoughtful, articulate and important book about the rise of English nationalism and the impending breakup of the United Kingdom from one of the finest BBC journalists of the last twenty years.

How Britain Ends is a book about history, but also about the strange, complicated identity of Britishness. 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. If no productive trade deal with the EU can be agreed, the pressures to declare Scottish independence and to push for a border poll that would unite Ireland will be 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?

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Current Affairs
04 Feb 2021 * 320pp * £8.99 * 9781800241077
'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

'Everything a good Remainer needs to persuade the Brexiters, punchy, pithy and short' Polly Toynbee.

'A brilliant demolition of the lies and liars that created the Brexit mess. Should be required reading at his old stamping ground, the BBC' Alastair Campbell.

'Timely and incisive ... Gavin Esler dispels the myth that delivering a Brexit deal, or no deal, would bring an "end" to Brexit' Francis Grove White, Peoples Vote Campaign.

'If you want a pithy, sober, clear-headed summary of what Brexit is actually likely to look like, Gavin Esler's new book is spot on. Such a welcome antidote to all the whipped up sentiment – calm, factual, rigorous'
 Dr Rachel Clarke, palliative doctor and NHS campaigner
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.