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Rule Britannia: Brexit and the End of Empire

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  122 ratings  ·  24 reviews

Books on Brexit explaining how and why parts of Britain voted to leave the European Union are falling hot off the press. Some promise the full story of the political manoeuvring that got us to this point, others promise to make sense of the vote, with a couple focusing on the supposed evils of immigration and Islam.

In Rule Britannia, Danny Dorling and Sally Tomlinson tell

Kindle Edition, 417 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Biteback Publishing
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Feb 18, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
this didn’t quite make a point? every chapter consisted of weird takes, a lot of repetition and then there was no real conclusion? no point was made? not sure it really assesses the impacts of Empire on Britain today beyond surface level, let alone on Brexit. The argumentation feels incomplete.
Morgan Price
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
As a Remainer and former student of imperial history, I had high hopes for this book, which strangely comes from Lord Ashcroft's Biteback Publishing despite criticising him at length. It argues that Brexit is the last gasp of Britain's search to find its place in the post-imperial age and results largely from the national arrogance that empire gave us.

A real problem with the book is that it focuses mostly on how the Tory-Brexit elite conceptualise Brexit, citing the imperial origins of the educa
Alexander Thomas
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
These are one of those books where the primary premise, once put forward and explained, becomes something that is at the same time slightly startling but also extremely self-apparent.

Rather than the general commentary on Brexit - a "stick in the eye" to the elite or a "protest vote" at the ruling powers - the book's hypothesis is that the vote can be traced to the culture of entitlement that flowed from the Empire and the decline of the UK in tandem with the dissolution of the Empire.

I think th
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's a lot of confusion about how a whole country managed to sabotage itself in one gesture. And how the establishment managed to benefit from the anti-establishment sentiment, and vote. As sad as it is informative, this book does a huge service to clearing up confusion. Often weaving counter-narratives and redressing systematic imbalances in mainstream discourse, any inquisitive mind and honest intellect out there will enjoy reading the account of this peculiar disaster presented by the auth ...more
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a book everyone needs to get hold of. Remainers, Leavers, undecided lots, or even those who are thoroughly alien to the discussion but are, probably, pawns to bigger political games in their own contexts. First and foremost, there's the big lesson of humility to be learnt in the context of a, as both authors correctly put it, jingoistic, long-extolled narrative. Which, in fact, has stirred more pain in the past, and present, than it is currently recognised to have had. Power is, in the e ...more
Leslie Yong
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good and interesting book, with the
authors that are bold and frank in their writing, who has done many detailed research to provides all the statistics to support their writing & presentation - and to reveal a true and honest conditions of the colonial past histories that bring the country to the present day - ie what the country is experiencing and going through. One such highlights is the inequality in education that is still prevalent in Britain today. And those (hidden) self
Simon Aebli
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent view on Brexit from a somewhat different perspective than usual brexit literature. Rather than explaining the leave vote directly with factors such as economy or migrant policy, Dorling and Tomlinson use them to show how they, together with a bygone age of empire, led to a common mindset unable to accomodate the supposed golden age of the past within post imperial europe. It is this mindset which is at once cause and consequence of a nation unable to integrate itself into a wider eu ...more
Bob Duke
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Empire 2.0

I had thought that visions of Empire 2.0 has driven the Brexit vote. This book makes a strong case for that. Whilst agreeing with much of it I feel that not enough weight was given to resentment to change and how this drives populism.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
Eye-opening albeit quite pessimistic.
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Thought provoking with sensible arguments and hope for the future.
Enjoyed it.
Helen (Helena/Nell)
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a dangerous book. Deliciously so.

It draws on facts. It gives the biographical background to the key players. It explains simply what the British Empire was and why it was never a Good Thing, why its legacy is infinitely perilous, and what has been happening over the last century.

It is plainly written, and never without humour. An education.

It was published before the final twist: the Westminster Conservative government's increase in power (not what the authors anticipated or construed a
Jonathan Hull
Mar 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Initially the book is a deep historical analysis of how Brexit came about and the consequences of many decisions and policies over the years that lead to today.

The spectre of empire and education - and how we view that period is really interesting and strikes a chord that more superficial analyses miss. This is not just an economic play but a cultural war that means our politicians mourn our loss of influence but don’t understand how to reshape this.

The final third of the book does drift into th
Mark Lilly
Oct 08, 2020 rated it did not like it
I first came across 'Danny' on youtube, where I found a series of lectures on the subject of this book. The lectures were chaotic and unstructured, with no introduction or sense of context. They were laden with bigoted pseudo-anecdotes pandering to the most facile and self-congratulatory. This was 'Woke' on crack cocaine. Examples: did people realise that about a hundred years ago Boris Johnson had used the word 'piccaninny'? did they know how significant it was that Nigel Farage's initials are ...more
Peter Gates
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really can’t rate this book highly enough. Written by two individuals who have huge reputations for analysing social trends, it is a categorical deconstruction of the folly of Brexit.

Well researched and referenced the reader is taken through a roller coaster of the evils of the British Empire and an account of how the Brexit w is the last breath of the Empire builders.

I lost count of the possible powerful quotes this book provides and the forensic destruction of the Conservative Party is an
Jim Levi
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have read a few works in the "Brexit Disaster" genre and this is a particularly good one with an interesting perspective on the English. Many years ago I remember a Northern Irish friend opining that "the English have no culture except imperialism" and that is part of Danny Dorling's point here. It is very opinionated, but very readable and contains much analysis that I had not seen elsewhere (eg giving a lie to the Northern Red Wall seats driving the leave vote as well as interesting facts ab ...more
Ken MacIntyre
Nov 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brexit Follies

Danny Dorling explodes a few Brexit and other myths. Older Southern and better off English Tory voters provided most of the Leave votes. The legacy of Empire underpins the UK's childish 4 year pursuit of the benefits of EU membership without the responsibilities, an arrogance that is blind to extreme inequality and public services eroded by austerity, cruelly exposed by the pandemic. Illustrated by fascinating charts and diagrams, it takes us up to last February.
Jan 16, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hugely disappointing. I don’t disagree with the book‘s broad thesis (although of course there are other aspects to Brexit too). But its mode of exposition - at once chippy and ingratiating, full of non-sequiturs, blithe assertions and ideological dogma - is tedious in the extreme. Compare Fintan O‘Toole‘s Heroic Failure - still the best thing I’ve read on Brexit by some margin. (Ivan Rogers’ 9 Lessons in Brexit and Heathcote Williams’ The Blond Beast of Brexit pretty good too, in their rather di ...more
Bruce Newsome
Nov 04, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So much time has passed since the referendum in 2016, and so little achieved, that Remainer polemics are being reissued in new editions. Reviewing them at their peak in 2018, I found them comically bad.

In 2020, they appear comically woke. They avoid the facts while accusing everyone else of ignorance. They retreat into echo chambers. They see bigotry everywhere. They love all things foreign. They long for supranationalism and miscategorise authoritarianism as “liberalism.”

Read more at this webpa
Steve Gillway
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: brexity, non-fiction
Anything citing Billy Bragg's "Full English Brexit" must be pretty good and this does not disappoint. This is more overtly political and partisan than their more "academic" works. There are all the typical jibes of Remoaners, repeated bits of evidence and a propensity to take surveys as gospel. Aside from all this, there is a clear and cogent argument outlined about how the Empire - attitudes to and the effects -of have had some resonance in the whole Brexit debate. Even for the authors to sugge ...more
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really important and well researched book. Inspired by listening to the authors at Hay Festival. Puts Brexit into context as a country having a strop in the absence of dealing with the end of Empire in an honest and open manner. Interesting to read again alongside Akala’s Natives. (And also my first creepy intro to Dominic Cummings - we are doomed)
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting and thought-provoking book which has been somewhat overtaken by events in the fast-moving Brexit saga. Worth a read.
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was ok
Interesting look on surface issues, but the arguments are repetitive & not very nuanced. Expected deeper exposition.
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
The books presents a bleak outlook for the future of the UK, with very strong arguments to support the points. Definitely worth a read to get another perspective in a coherent manner.
Patrick G Cox
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This makes very interesting and informative reading, though events have somewhat overtaken the projections for the outcome of the Article 50 process.I found myself in full agreement with a great deal of the book, though I will perhaps reserve my views on the viability, or indeed the ability, of the current Labour Party to challenge or change the outcome of Brexit. Certainly the hubris, lack of foresight and planning and the sheer arrogance of the Tory Party in particular and the Brexit voting po ...more
Dr Gusztav Belteki
rated it really liked it
Nov 18, 2019
rated it it was amazing
Sep 26, 2019
Mac Chong
rated it it was amazing
Oct 16, 2020
Su Charlesworth
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Mar 28, 2019
rated it it was amazing
May 24, 2020
Russell Warfield
rated it liked it
May 12, 2019
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Danny Dorling is a British social geographer researching inequality and human geography. He is the Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography of the School of Geography and the Environment of the University of Oxford.

Danny Dorling has lived all his life in England. To try to counter his myopic world view, in 2006, Danny started working with a group of researchers on a project to remap the world (www

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