TIME

HOW BREXIT BROKE BRITAIN

Three years after the vote, the U.K. remains in pieces

ON A FRIDAY EVENING IN JULY 2012, 80,000 PEOPLE gathered at the Olympic Stadium in East London to watch the opening ceremony of the 30th Olympiad. Some 27 million British people watched it on their televisions, and many more around the globe. Expectations were sky-high and tinged with skepticism. Many of us sat down to watch the ceremony in that typically British frame of mind—ironic, self-deprecating, pragmatic—which did not predispose us to be impressed.

But impressed we were. It’s very hard to articulate a resonant, complex vision of your own national identity without resorting to cliché, but the creators succeeded that night. They did it by using humor—by deploying witty and creative use of British icons such as James Bond and Mr. Bean, by digging deep into our great cultural and political heritage. The fact that audiences in other countries were bemused, apparently, by some of the more specific cultural references only confirmed the ceremony’s determination not to project the well-worn, flag-waving, red-London-bus version of Britishness that the rest of the world was used

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from TIME

TIME4 min readPolitics
Adam Sciff’s trial
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF, THE CHAIRMAN of the House Intelligence Committee, has the calm demeanor of a student who knows he’s ready for a big exam. On the evening before the first public impeachment hearings of the 21st century, the anticipation on
TIME12 min read
Innovators
EMILY WEISS | 34 By Alexis Ohanian I first learned about Emily Weiss and Glossier from the forum r/skincareaddiction on Reddit. I remember being floored by how fanatical these Redditors were—not only about Glossier and its products, but about Emily.
TIME2 min read
Spain’s New Far Right Rides Nationalist Wave To Greater Power
FOR 44 YEARS, FAR-RIGHT PARTIES WERE anathema in Spain, thanks to the memory of Francisco Franco’s fascist dictatorship. But after elections on Nov. 10, ultraconservative Vox became the third largest party in the country’s legislature. Center-left Pr