As the world anxiously anticipates the outcome of the US presidential election next week – and the consequences it will have for global politics – we’ve asked the world’s foremost expert on English linguistic imperialism, Professor Robert Phillipson, to explain the relationship between current affairs and the global linguistic order. In this long read, he shows how political ideologies harking back centuries to the British Empire and Anglo-French rivalry have led to Brexit, and how the expansion of English fits into the political picture. In the European Union, multilingualism is increasingly giving way to English language dominance – despite Britain leaving the Union. Even so, English language proficiency continues to be a source of anxiety for continental European politicians. At the same time, they are finding it increasingly difficult to trust the traditional owners of the English language.