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Elizabethan Brexit: today’s crisis bears an uncanny resemblance to that which faced Elizabeth I

A break with Europe, an economic crisis, and a government on the brink of collapse. It's just like the late 16th century

Illustrations by Ben Jennings

Facing a clamour of demands for a vision of post-Brexit Britain and its place in the world, the beleaguered prime minister might find instruction in her favoured period of England’s past. When asked by the Observer 13 years ago which historical figure she most identified with, Theresa May chose the indomitable Tudor queen Elizabeth I, a woman “who knew her own mind and achieved in a male environment.” More recently, the press have been quick to invoke Shakespearean ideas of a sceptered isle and the…

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