Britain Alone: The Path from Suez to Brexit

Philip Stephens. Faber & Faber, $20.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-571-34177-1
A diminished U.K. has been too standoffish toward Europe and too subservient to the U.S., argues this probing study of post-WWII British foreign policy. Financial Times journalist Stephens (Politics and the Pound) explores Britain’s uneasy, decades-long adjustment to the loss of its empire and global power, exemplified by the 1956 Suez Canal crisis, during which the British military, along with French and Israeli forces, tried to reoccupy the canal after Egypt nationalized it; the Brits retreated when a disapproving President Eisenhower cut off financing and oil. In response, Britain shored up its “special relationship” with the U.S., which led to Margaret Thatcher’s cooperation with Ronald Reagan’s anti-communist policies and Tony Blair’s ill-advised participation in the Iraq War, while also seeking to re-energize the country’s economy and geopolitical clout by joining the European Union, a project that was undermined by nationalist and imperial nostalgia. Delivering a caustic brief against Brexit, Stephens argues that the vote was rooted in “insecurity” and “dog-whistle racism” and will leave Britain economically weaker and “marooned.” Buttressed by Stephens’s firm grasp of parliamentary politics and elegant prose, this erudite yet accessible history uncovers the agonizing trade-offs that flow from simplistic economic and political nostrums. Photos. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, the Wylie Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/20/2021
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Nonfiction
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