The turbulence of Brexit threatens to undermine England-EU trans-border cooperation at the sub-national scale. This paper discusses the lived experience of city and regional leaders involved in developing cross-European cooperation during the early phase of the Brexit ‘project’. It contributes to the idea of relational leadership as a framing device for studying leadership in trans-border cooperation in the England–EU sub-national setting, and surfaces challenges faced by sub-national leaders in trans-border cooperation during significant policy turbulence. Two main findings of the research have wider relevance for emerging city and regional (place) leadership theory and practice. First, the unanticipated shock caused by Brexit to the supranational policy environment is impacting significantly on sub-national leaders’ ability to maintain good trans-border working relationships; and second, continuing non-prejudicial dialogue and meaningful conversations between sub-national partners are an antidote to the negative legacies of such policy disruption.
- relational leadership
- trans-border cooperation