Political Racism

Brexit and its Aftermath

Martin Shaw

£65.00  |  $95.00
ISBN 9781788215077
£19.99  |  $30.00
ISBN 9781788215084
£19.99  |  $30.00
ISBN 9781788215091
184 pages   |  234 x 156mm   |  24 March 2022


"Shaw tackles a difficult issue – one that tends to be played down when we discuss supposedly 'mainstream' British politics – with skill, subtlety and an admirable refusal to resort to euphemism. Anyone seeking a deeper understanding of how Brexit came to pass should read this book and take its argument seriously." – Tim Bale, Professor of Politics, Queen Mary University of London

"A necessary and robust intervention challenging our reticence to speak candidly about the uses of race and racism in contemporary political discourse. Authored by an eminent and accomplished scholar, this book will be of interest to a broad audience." – Nasar Meer, Professor of Race, Identity and Citizenship, University of Edinburgh

"Political Racism is a vital intervention which confronts what most studies of contemporary British politics conveniently elide: the mobilization of new and old forms of racism for political ends. Shaw meticulously documents the lingering Powellism and reconstituted racisms which have been activated in Brexit-era politics and persisted throughout the Johnson administration. This book is a solid serving of evidence in the otherwise mystifying field of political science which remains intent on avoiding the ‘R’ word." – Lisa Tilley, SOAS University of London

"If you have wondered what role racism played in the Brexit referendum, this book is a must-read. Martin Shaw offers a new way of thinking about racism, which is essential to our understanding of modern British politics and society. He charts the rise of racialised politics in the UK and explains why immigration increasingly became an issue in a society that traditionally had been more accepting of migrants. This book challenges our understanding of concepts like racism, xenophobia, nationalism and nativism and explains how political racism can hide in plain sight." – Maike Bohn, co-founder of the3million


Political Racism conceptualizes a distinctive form of racism – intentional, organized hostility mobilized by political actors – and examines its role in the Brexit conflict and in the rise of a new nationalist politics in the UK.

In a compelling analysis the book argues that Powellite anti-immigrant racism, reinterpreted in numerical terms, was combined with anti-East European and anti-Muslim hostility to inform the Vote Leave victory. This type of racism, which has a special significance in societies where racism has been delegitimized, is shown to have further shaped the form of EU withdrawal and also the government’s post-Brexit policies.


1 Conceptualizing racism and political racism
2 Political racism and immigration
3 The Europhobic movement and its ideology
4 Racism in the referendum
5 Embedded racism in the Brexit conflict
6 Johnson’s victory and the nationalist Tory regime

Author Information

Martin Shaw is Emeritus Professor of International Relations and Politics at the University of Sussex and Research Professor at the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals. He has written widely on global politics, war and genocide.

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