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The imagined superiority of Britain

Sovereignty, prestige and a lost, mythologised past

By Jonathan Lis   March 2021
Running out of time: President Kennedy and Harold Macmillan meeting at the Key West Naval Station on March 27, 1961 Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Running out of time: President Kennedy and Harold Macmillan meeting at the Key West Naval Station on March 27, 1961 Credit: Wikimedia Commons

What does it mean to be alone? Aloneness functions as exclusion or self-exclusion—in Britain’s case, both. Ours is the imagined superiority in standing apart from (or above) others, and the fear that they are leaving us behind. This is isolation both sought and resented.

In Britain Alone, journalist Philip Stephens explains how that aloneness came to be. He identifies the key tussles of British policymaking since 1945: how the false binaries of America versus Europe and history versus geography masked a more profound choice between nostalgia and reason. It is a magnificent, exhilarating book, laying bare the contradictions,…

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