Latest Issue

The primary reason for Brexit’s failure? A profound misconception about what “Britain” really is 

The UK political class struggles to conceive of what a multinational state actually means

By Matthew O'Toole  

Photo: Michael Kappeler/DPA/PA Images

The word “Brexit” has caused problems even as the act of Brexit has been stifled.The success of the mindlessly circular and self-defeating mantra “Brexit means Brexit” was the first sign that the mystical energy of the word would come to overpower the actual practice of leaving the European Union.

But worse than the riddle-like quality of the term is the deceptiveness of its component parts—Britain and exit. Especially the first part. As we know, Britain has not yet exited. The primary reason for this is…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect