Lecture #4 – University of Copenhagen

Britain After Brexit: Theresa, Trump and the Transition to “Global Britain”

By Professor Stuart James Ward

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Abstract of lecture:

On 28 January 2017, Theresa May and Donald Trump made global headlines when they were pictured walking hand-in-hand along the White House colonnade. Press reactions ranged from ridicule to (such as the Daily Mirror’s headline ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’) to vague feelings of reassurance that ‘the Special Relationship is back on’ (as the Independent trumpeted). Only the week before, the British Prime Minister had sketched out her post-Brexit vision of ‘Global Britain’ in a major speech at Lancaster House, in which she foregrounded the historical ties to English-speaking nations the world over, particularly the United States. The confluence of the Global Britain moment and the intimate body language of May’s first White House visit prompted speculation that the Trump Administration was poised to absorb much of the economic strain of a ‘hard Brexit’ and strengthen Theresa May’s negotiating hand in Brussels. This lecture will look beneath the surface rhetoric of ‘Global Britain’ to consider the role and influence of the ‘Anglosphere’ in the Brexit debate, particularly the widespread expectation of an American helping hand. It will consider the historical conditions that produced these expectations and the patterns of cultural memory that sustain them, before turning to a number of countervailing factors that render unlikely any significant US life-line for Britain’s post-Brexit trading future.

Introduction to Stuart James Ward:

Stuart Ward is Professor of British studies at the Institute for English, German and Romance Studies at Copenhagen University. He has written numerous books and articles on the history of the British empire and its complex afterlife in contemporary British society. He is specialising in European imperial history and the settler-colonies of the British empire. He has an honours degree in history from the University of Queensland, a PhD from the University of Sydney, and has held previous posts at the European University Institute (1991-4), Odense University (1997-2000), and the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, King's College London (2001-3).He divides his research time between the political and cultural impact of imperialism and decolonisation in post-WWII Europe, and the legacies of empire in Britain's former settler colonies, with a particular emphasis on Australia. He has been based in Copenhagen since 2003.