The former Irish Prime Minister blamed the vote for the UK to leave the Brussels bloc on the nation struggling to find itself after hundreds of years of being at “the centre of a global empire”.
Speaking on EPP TV, Mr Bruton, who was prime minister between 1994-1997, suggested voters were looking to solve an identity crisis and had pitted the country against the EU.
He said: “In the case of Brexit I think what we saw was an English nationalism emerging. England had been the centre of a global empire for 200 years and, if you like, the empire provided English people with their identity. Now that the empire has disappeared, they’re trying to find a new English identity.
John Bruton said England had pitted itself against the EU due to an identity crisis
They’re defining the English identity as somehow against the European Union
“As is often the case with identity politics, they define the identity against something. They’re defining the English identity as somehow against the European Union. So this insistence on having an identity that is very strong and very contrary to someone else is of course a recipe for conflict.”
Mr Bruton, who later served as the EU’s ambassador to the United States, previously claimed Brexit would “cost the UK a lot of money” stating it would be better if voters “changed their minds”.
He said the British people would hold a “different view” of their vote last June, once the country actually left the bloc.
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"We would prefer it if the people of the United Kingdom changed their minds and decided that after all, they’re better off in the European Union than out of it," he told BBC Scotland.
"It would certainly solve a lot of problems. It would relieve a lot of difficulties for Europe. It would relieve a lot of difficulties for Ireland.
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"And I think it would be better economically for the people of the United Kingdom.”