Brexit and its implications pose the latest challenge to the Union as a political project and to unionism as the doctrine of state legitimacy. How did key unionist actors articulate the legitimizing foundations of the Union in the critical period 2016–20? And to what extent did they set out a renewed case for its continuation? Drawing on an extensive database including parliamentary debates, party documents and conference notes, we find that, despite the profound nature of the challenges posed by Brexit, dominant legitimizing claims continued to be instrumentalist defences of the Union rooted in economics and welfare. These were underpinned by ideas of social union around shared solidarity and belonging and supplemented by an invocation of common British values. Overall, while we identify a plurality of competing and often conflicting unionist themes, we conclude that key unionist actors struggled to adapt the legitimizing foundations of their political project to the realities of a post-Brexit UK.
|Journal||Territory, Politics, Governance|
|Early online date||19 Jul 2021|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 19 Jul 2021|
- Scottish independence