The Reformation and Brexit: history and the position of the UK in Europe

The English Reformation has been cited as evidence both for and against the decision of the UK to leave the EU. Henry VIII’s idiosyncratically independent stance has been contrasted with the European dimension of Thomas Cranmer’s contacts and the influence of continental Reformers in England and in Scotland. This paper will examine those arguments, and explore them in the context of the engagement of the Churches of England and Scotland in the debates surrounding Brexit. What insights might the history of the church offer in understanding British politics today?

Charlotte Methuen is Professor of Church History at the University of Glasgow. Her research interests include the history of the Reformation, with a focus on the German Reformation, and the history of the ecumenical movement, particularly between the First and Second World Wars.