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The Brexit process is today at a crucial stage. In the UK, it is polarising opinion and creating divisions across a number of fault lines in British society between generations, geographies of inequality, cosmopolitan liberals and more rural conservatives, communities divided by historical conflicts of religion or nationality.
In the European Union, similar tensions are everywhere – at the time of writing in France, above all, with the gilets jaunes, in Andalusia with the reappearance of far‐right politics in Spain, not to mention in Hungary with the Central European University forced out of Budapest. Societies are increasingly divided among themselves and against each other.
This article considers the implications of Brexit for international cultural relations in Europe. It considers the case of Brexit, recognizes that Brexit is a process, or a state of mind, rather than a single event, and that the future is still to be negotiated. It concludes by suggesting that we should aim to learn from Brexit – whatever happens will be shaped by the lessons we can apply to make a more positive future.
Stuart MacDonald, FRSA is founder and senior consultant at SYM consulting, he is a former Senior Policy Adviser to Governments, and founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Cultural Relations, University of Edinburgh. Stuart specializes in transnational influence, bridging public policy, academia, practice, and business.
Stuart is a Senior Fellow at the European Center for Global Education at the Global Governance Institute at the Free University, Brussels (VuB); a Research Associate at the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS, University of London; a Board Member of the Academy of Sport at the University of Edinburgh, and Chair of the Board of Arts Cabinet, an arts organization dedicated to artistic research.