Journal of Undergraduate Research


national identity, Brexit, European Union, United Kingdom


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




In June of 2016 the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. Known as ‘Brexit’ the majority decision was for the UK to leave with 52% of the vote. The Brexit vote was fueled in part by anti-immigration and racist propaganda that promoted a national identity centered on being “English” rather than “British.” With the decision to leave the European Union, the United Kingdom must now act carefully to not upset its economy, while grappling with the issue of immigration. The direction that the UK takes is tied to views of national identity (Rothì, Lyons & Chryssochoou, 2005). For many national identity is linked to being “English” and is more exclusive and racially based than identification with being “British.” English identity is generally comprised of cultural attributes such as shared language, history, ancestry, values, and race. Complicating the identity crisis are immigrant identities as cultural and legal residents of the UK. Collectively the English and immigrant identities are now confronting one of the United Kingdom’s largest questions, who are we and what does that mean?

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