Crisis of Authority: The Brexit Trials: Introduction
The trials of Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Priti Patel and David Davies.
Most of the writers and journalists who published during the ‘Brexit’ years, 2016-2018, registered in some way their responses to the conflicts swirling about them.
Many of the ‘radical voices’ of Brexit were muted, but the Brexit years have left a lasting imprint upon English politics, literature and culture.
‘Brexit’ and the issues over which it was fought shadow the prose of The New European, The Telegraph, The Metro, The Evening Standard, and The Times.
This section presents examples of several kinds of writing that flourished during Brexit and its immediate aftermath: the journalistic reporting of current events; political theory; and careful descriptions of contemporary history, personal experience, and individual character.
These excerpts demonstrate a variety of ways in which writers might respond to the disturbing and exciting developments around them: by reporting the details of dramatic, unprecedented occurrences; by analysing the political and social problems posed by the conflict; by ruminating upon the character of great men; by seizing new opportunities for autobiographical reflection.
These also include J C M Butler’s call for a new government founded on popular sovereignty; reports of my visions, my travels, my critique of the Conservative government and my radical denunciation based on the grounds that I am an apostle who possesses the spirit of God.
They have established a tradition of overtly political, often ambitiously literary writing without which it is hard to imagine the work of Brexit.
They established journalism as as a dominant literary medium, especially for the description and analysis of everyday life. They have initiated a tradition of apparently ordinary people’s bearing witness in writing to extraordinary events: a vital precedent to the rise of the ‘novel’.
Yet often such writers addressed the conflict only obliquely.
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