Where We Are

by Roger Scruton, Bloomsbury, 237pp, £16.99

In his overview of where Britain finds itself in the wake of the Brexit vote, Roger Scruton sets out to answer what will unify the country, “as a single people subject to a single law”, now that it has disenthralled itself from the European Union. Consequently, it is with questions of identity and sovereignty that he is most engaged.

While he concedes that the British left the European Union because they were convinced that laws imposed from Brussels violated not only British sovereignty but also British identity, he makes a number of assertions about the British understanding of sovereignty and identity that are rather dubious.

For example, Scruton may acknowledge that British identity has something to do with Christianity, but he sees that Christianity in such attenuated terms as to be essentially unreal and, what is even more arresting, he claims that British sovereignty somehow demanded that the British adopt an unreal Christianity.

In other words, the British were right to acquiesce in the pinchbeck Christianity imposed on them by the Tudors because to have done otherwise would have been a violation of their sovereignty. Moreover, for Scruton, British identity always preferred the pinchbeck to the genuine article when it came to Christianity because the British never saw the point of what he calls “the old nonsense” with regard to transubstantiation.

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